"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Strange tale of ass't Stevens County attorney

Timothy Rundquist, RIP
What was up with that assistant Stevens County attorney? I wasn't aware of that incident until I glanced at the front page of the Morris newspaper on the front of a vending machine.
That story was definitely an "above the fold" kind, not that I was induced to push five quarters into the machine. Who has five quarters on him/her to buy a paper that way? Five quarters? Upon buying it, you'd grab that pile of advertising inserts and heave them into the nearest waste receptacle. Then you'd get into your vehicle and breathlessly read that sensational article.
An assistant Stevens County attorney was killed while fleeing police. That's definitely man-bites-dog.
I wrote about the Stevens County attorney's office last year for a different reason. We had that little scandal of serious criminal charges filed against a local school administrator. Those charges were dropped with a disturbing lack of clarity over why they were dropped. Were they dropped because the accuser's story was false or made up? Did the county attorney's office just want us to assume that? Or not? They could have just made things clear with the facts. They had no problem making big public pronouncements when they were aggressive and trying to nail that administrator.
Now we have an assistant county attorney killed while trying to flee police.
I wasn't happy seeing a police car's flashing lights when I got pulled over for no seat belt a couple years ago. I was pulled over for seat belt as a primary offense. I was transporting my parents home from the senior center, so I would like to think I didn't conform to any criminal profile.
When Jesse Ventura was governor, he said peace officers should be "courteous to the public" in these situations. I suppose there's a contrary theory that asserts that if police officers are terse and stern, that's part of the punishment for what you did, like going to a website to try to pay your fine and finding it's not user-friendly, or finding there's a "convenience fee" for paying online. I wrote an email to State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen about the latter and got no response. Why should I be assessed extra simply for taking advantage of "convenience?" Isn't "convenience" something we all seek? Is it not an ideal?
The police officer who came up to me could have scored points by just saying "How are you all doing today?" Takes two seconds. But no, there was a terse request for license and proof of insurance. He came back and said "do you realize that when you don't wear your seat belt, you can become a projectile?" And I felt like saying: "Do you realize that when you pull over someone like this, you can become an 'asshole?' "
I talked to someone who actually served on some kind of law enforcement commission locally, who told me that even he doesn't wear his seat belt all the time. He said if it was a short routine jaunt, he might not bother. I told him he damn well better buckle up at all times, because all it takes is being spotted for a split second, and then you're toast.
If seat belts are absolutely essential, why then wasn't there such vigorous enforcement, say, 30 years ago? Were we hopeless Neanderthals then?
Today if you experience sex with an unmarried partner, you have the risk of that person going to law enforcement (over feeling under-appreciated, maybe?) and having the rest of your life tarred.
 
Theory re. the fleeing attorney
So, what was up with the assistant Stevens County attorney? My theory is that he had been consuming alcohol. Continuing with this theory, I think he was perfectly capable of driving safely, but had had some alcohol and realized that legal charges could be life-changing for him.
Many people have a perfectly sound mind and can drive safely after doing a little social drinking. But, all that matters when you get pulled over, is what that testing machine shows. If it's over a certain level, my, the consequences are oh so drastic. Maybe they are too drastic, except for cases where the consumption was obviously reckless and excessive.
Oh, but even minor impairment can endanger people, right? Well, I suppose that's true, but human beings can have all sorts of limitations. Let's consider people over the age of 80 who continue to drive. You might bristle and say "My dad is 85 and I know he can drive safely." I'd respond by saying that "by the same token, many people I know can have a couple alcohol drinks with supper and drive safely." They'd retort: "Oh no, you're impaired." And by the same token I'd say "people over age 80 are going to be impaired."
In the world of pro baseball, it is a known fact that at the age of 33, you begin losing your reflexes. I'd say that age 80 is quite a bit further down the road.
What about sleep-deprived people at the wheel? What about people on certain kinds of medication? What about people driving vehicles that aren't optimally maintained, as with tires not properly inflated? If we are going to be this severe with DWIs, then I would quote Mike McFeely of KFGO Radio, Fargo: "Maybe it's time we made alcohol illegal."
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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