Posts Tagged ‘Seattle Times’

After the Marysville-Pilchuk school shooting last week, Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat wrote a column calling for criminal penalties for adult gun owners who leave a gun unsecured, if a child under sixteen harms someone with the gun.

Of course he caused a storm of emotion on both “sides” of the gun argument. This morning there are 559 comments on his article, most passionate, angry and one-sided.

Each time a child finds a gun and shoots someone, whether accidentally or intentionally, both sides go to the media and yell at each other. The gun rights camp usually argues that responsible gun owners don’t leave their guns around, their kids know damn well not to touch them without adult supervision and the real crime would be punishing responsible gun owners for the stupidity of a few bad parents. The gun safety crowd has multiple arguments about sensible regulation, which boil down to “…if one person can be saved by a new law, it will be worth it.”

It’s hard to know if one person can be saved by a change in the law. The gun lobby has effectively used this lack of certainty to argue that nothing should be done.

In my opinion, the decision to adopt reasonable regulation should be less about proof and statistics–which can be manipulated by both sides–and more about common sense and life experience.

My experience as a mom showed me that even the most ardent anti-gun parents can’t control what their children encounter. When our kids were little, there were no guns in our home and we gave plenty of lectures about gun safety. Imagine my surprise when I found a handgun on a closet shelf in my fourth-grader’s room. Turns out a little buddy of his snuck a BB gun into a backpack for a sleepover at our house and forgot to bring it home with him. As my parental inquiry went deeper, I learned that, unbeknownst to me, the kids had been shooting at boxes at the friend’s house during after-school play dates.

Boys, right? (more…)


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In an editorial today, the Seattle Times has lauded the decision by Kitsap Superior Court Judge Jeanette Dalton in our public records case.

The Times editorial begins with a problem all too familiar to open-government advocates:

“A spate of public-records cases in Washington state are raising a question that shouldn’t have to be asked at all: Should public officials be allowed to evade public-records requests when they use their own cellphones, computers and email accounts? Of course not, but that hasn’t kept them from trying.”

Discussing several public records cases making their way through the Washington courts, the Times said this about Bainbridge Island:

“A private cellphone really is no different from a private email account; and where email is concerned, the courts have been clear. A series of rulings have established that, whether a public official uses a personal mailbox or an official one, the emails still must be disclosed.

“The state Supreme Court laid down that rule in a City of Shoreline case in 2010, and last month a Kitsap County Superior Court judge further clarified the issue. Two Bainbridge Island council members, David Ward and Steven Bonkowski, did public business from their personal computers, and they deleted their emails before two island residents filed public-records requests. Judge Jeanette Dalton ruled the council members were subject to the same records-retention requirements as the city, and she ordered Bainbridge Island to conduct a forensic investigation of the council members’ home computers. (more…)

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The State Auditor’s office has dismissed a complaint filed against the City by former Civil Service Commission Secretary/Chief Examiner Kim Hendrickson. Her complaint alleged violations of whistleblower laws, open government laws, and Civil Service Commission rules, specifically targeting former City Manager Brenda Bauer and Council member Bob Scales.

“Your concerns regarding the City are outside our audit authority,” wrote Jan Jutte, Director of Legal Affairs for the Auditor’s office.  “Our office has no authority to examine compliance with civil service or local government whistleblower laws.” (more…)

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Based on its two-part series on the Bainbridge Island Police Department, the Seattle Times has now penned an editorial: Rethinking law enforcement options on Bainbridge Island.

Their prescription? A department review from the ground up. More police training, especially in crisis intervention. And while we’re at it, we should think about outsourcing the police department to the Kitsap County Sheriff.

It seems a little odd for a newspaper across the water to write a couple of articles and then give us advice about our police department.  Their ideas aren’t any more creative than those we’ve heard from local citizens for years. (more…)

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This afternoon, the following statement (posted on the City’s website) was issued by the City of Bainbridge Island:

The City of Bainbridge Island
February 27, 2012

Dear Bainbridge Island residents:

The Seattle Times published stories, yesterday and today, which focused on the Douglas Ostling tragedy and on how the city has dealt with accusations of misconduct by our police officers in the past. TheTimes’ story does not adequately reflect the City’s commitment to police professionalism and accountability, nor does it convey some of the significant work that has been in progress at the city. The relationship between our community and our police department is one of the city’s most critical connections with its citizens, and because this is such an important topic, I wanted you to be aware of some facts.

The Council, the Police Chief and I are committed to ensuring that police officers receive the appropriate training, that practices are transparent, that any misconduct is addressed, and that we improve the standards and expectations for everyone who works for our police department.

Under any circumstances, the loss of a human life is very painful. The City continues to join its citizens in offering its sincere condolences to the family of Mr. Ostling. The Kitsap Sheriff and Prosecutor have made their investigative files available for those who would like more information. Our administrative report and reports from the prosecutor are included with this letter.

Our commitment to the citizens of Bainbridge Island is that our officers will understand how to best handle people in crisis. Chief Fehlman is a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), facilitates classes here, and was on the Board of the Sonoma County NAMI chapter before coming to Bainbridge. Before the officer involved shooting, seven of our 21 officers had completed Crisis Intervention Training, with three getting additional certification to become trainers. The Bainbridge Island Police Department will continue to make this critical training a priority for our officers.

Police officers are often called upon to engage people in the most difficult moments of their lives. Every police department will receive complaints about how an officer handled a situation. The most critical thing when a complaint is made is how we respond. I can assure you, when there has been misconduct, or accusations of misconduct, we have responded appropriately by investigating allegations in a timely and fair manner. (more…)

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The Seattle Times has written the first of a two-part story about the Ostling shooting and the Bainbridge Island Police Department. The Times article has some new detail about the case, gleaned from public records, depositions and conversations with the Ostling family.

Go here to read part one.

Update 2/27/12: Part two is on the Times’ website here. It focuses primarily on the hiring of Charles Arntz and the conduct of former police guild president Scott Weiss. (Sidebar—Who did that reporter talk to? “Mayberry with Audis”? What islander has ever said that? Priuses maybe. Mayberry, never. We’re not that friendly.)

Information that is significantly unfavorable to the police department emerges in the stories. On the other hand, the coverage of the Ostling shooting seems somewhat slanted toward the Ostling family’s version of events. Photographs and other details that were reported in our local press (here and here)  were not reported by the Times. Also not mentioned is that an Ostling family member’s statements taken by a sheriff’s investigator at the scene differ from subsequent accounts by the family (reported by the Kitsap Sun). That changing statement was of enough significance to Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge that he mentioned it in a letter, in which he defended his decision not to prosecute the officers for the shooting.  (more…)

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