Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fool Me Once Shame on You, Fool Me Twice Shame on Me... (UPDATED)

Fool me eight times and I just am not paying attention or getting the message, or both. That's what the Connecticut State Police administration must be saying to themselves after one of their own - Trooper Eugene K. Baron, 42, of Ansonia, Connecticut - was pulled over in Manchester, Connecticut for his eighth alcohol-related offense (fifth for drunk driving specifically). It appears that Mr. Baron does not discriminate when it comes to what vehicle he chooses to booze and cruise with, as three of his four previous drunk driving incidents have occurred in a police cruiser. I suppose what amazes me so much about this story is the fact that he was allowed to stay on the force following a drunk driving arrest in a police vehicle, nevermind following a second and third arrest for the same offense. In fact, one of the arrests saw the suspension of three other Connecticut State Troopers for failing to actually arrest Baron because he was one of their own. Baron tried to use the same logic with Manchester police seargent who arrested him, but to no avail. A charge of driving with a suspended license will not be added to Baron's docket in Manchester because, amazingly, somehow his license was valid. His license has been suspended in the past - at the request of his own employer (the po-po) - but he has been able to get it back.

The Connecticut State Police administration seems to be dragging their feet with their brother-in-arms Baron. Public Safety Commissioner John A. Danaher stated yesterday, "We are aware, of course, he has a problem he needs help with and we are doing our best to provide that help." Apparently, either the State of Connecticut is not doing the best they can to help Baron (step 1: fire him from the police force for not one, not two, but three incidents involving driving under the influence in a police car paid for by the taxpayers of Connecticut), or their best efforts are just not working. However, from the Boston Globe article that reported on this, it seems that the State of Connecticut's best efforts are limited to conducting internal affairs investigations concerning Baron's behavior and suspending (not terminating) him from the force. That seems a little weak. To begin with, Baron should obviously be fired and then the internal affairs investigations pending against him should be made into criminal investigations. Someone might also want to suspend his license for longer than 24 hours (which is all the State of Connecticut did after releasing him on a measly $500 bail). How long are these states going to enable Trooper Baron to be a reckless individual? Until he kills someone? The brain trust behind the internal affairs division over at Connecticut State Police headquarters, Lt. Col. Robert Duffy, offered up this excuse to the lack of action on their part: "It was his own time, his own car. We can't live these guys lives for them." No, but you can at the very least suspend their license and fire them from the job that they have disgraced. Peace.

Photos - Top: Model Connecticut State Police Car (, Bottom: Connecticut State Police Patch (

UPDATE: Thanks to the anonymous poster for alerting my attention to some new developments in the story involving disgraced Connecticut State Trooper Eugene K. Baron. On Saturday, May 26 someone in the Connecticut DMV woke up and suspended Baron's license indefinitely. As the anonymous poster pointed out, the Hartford Courant reported on June 7 that Baron decided to quit the job that he had no right to be in anyway. An opinion column in the Courant puts the action (or inaction) of the Connecticut State Police regarding Baron in the spotlight, summing up the case quickly but efficiently. No word on whether Baron will be receiving any type of severance or pension because, technically, he is leaving the force under his own will which has gotten sleazy cops benefits in the past. Hopefully the Connecticut State Police will use this embarrassing episode as a learning experience and act on officers who are poisons to the force. Peace.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What's Love Got to Do With It?

While this story is quite played out in the media, I feel the overwhelming need to weigh in on it. Of course I am talking about the now disgraced president (until June 30) of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz. You may remember Mr. Wolfowitz from his former post as US Deputy Secretary of Defense in the Bush Administration. The BBC calls him the "most hawkish of the so-called neo-conservatives in the Republican Party" and "one of the main architects of the invasion of Iraq in 2003." We cannot forget his great piece of work - the Wolfowitz Doctrine - leaked in 1992 which he wrote with the help of none other than Scooter Libby. In it, the two describe how the world should be made up of one superpower (read: America) and that, through military might and preemptive action, no other country should be able to become a world power. This is the type of thinking that led America into Iraq in 2003, as many have labeled the Wolfowitz Doctrine the Bush Doctrine. In his infinite wisdom, George Bush put Wolfowitz in the president's seat at the world bank, knowing full-well his attitudes towards non-American nations. Europe, obviously, was not pleased with this decision, but America is the largest stake holder in the bank and thus gets to appoint its president.

So Wolfowitz somehow got appointed to this post that is supposed to promote the growth and prosperity of other countries despite his feelings towards retarding the growth and prosperity of other countries. Wolfowitz's appointment to president seemed inappropriate from the start not only because of his previous musings on world domination, but also because, as president he would become the boss of Shaha Riza, his girlfriend. At first, Wolfowitz told the bank that he wanted to recuse himself from all personnel matters involving Riza, but insisted that he be allowed to conduct professional business, something that the bank denied him. So, instead of accepting that and doing his job as he was supposed to, he decided to get directly involved in Riza's role and get her not only a transfer to the State Department, but kept her on the bank's payroll and got her a raise to about $193,000 untaxed, which is higher than Condoleezza Rice's ($186,000) and, if it were $193,000 after taxes, would equal a salary of just under $265,000. So initially Wolfowitz wanted to stay out of anything involving Riza and personnell, but decided that the best thing to do would be to transfer her and give her a raise, all the while not letting anyone know about it.

Obviously when the bank staff found out about this they did not take kindly to it. The result has been a long, drawn out scandal that has seen a lot of media play. It has peaked today, as Wolfowitz has announced his decision to voluntarily step down from the post on June 30 of this year, all the while denying any wrongdoing and demanding that his name be cleared. Not only that, but Wolfowitz has blamed the rules and the lack of transparency at the World Bank for his downfall. It's true, had the rules not been there and had he not been able to break them without people knowing he wouldn't have broken them in the first place. But in all seriousness, Wolfowitz broke the rules, had to know that he was breaking them as he did it, and now he is complaining that he is being "smeared" and did not try to conceal anything from anyone. The worst part is, Wolfowitz is supposedly fighting for a generous severance package from the bank. His contract requires a year's salary ($302,470 with the bank paying the taxes on it and a $141,290 expense account) following termination, but, as the New York Times reports, it is not known whether his resignation is equal to a termination. Additionally, while Wolfowitz says he will stay in his position until June 30 (end of the fiscal year), many within the World Bank have called for him to step down immediately and many have said that he has given up the majority of his responsibilities there. The ball is now in George W. Bush's court, as he is poised to choose the next leader of the World Bank. This does not bode well for the bank and its European members, as they originally opposed Wolfowitz's appointment and Bush has publicly supported Wolfowitz throughout this whole ordeal. Wolfowitz, a man who many have argued was unfit for the job in the first place, has proved himself to be inadequate when it comes to running the World Bank. It is clear through his actions and those he surrounds himself with (i.e. Scooter Libby), that the man is corrupt and deserves to lose his job and receive no severance package. Besides, he could just move in with his girlfriend. I heard she just got a raise. Peace.

Photos - Top: Paul Wolfowitz (, Middle: Shaha Riza (, Bottom: Cash money (

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Something Just Doesn't Add Up

Cpl Bruce McKay
(Town of Franconia)
A bizarre turn of events saw the death of two men this past Friday in the small town of Franconia in northern New Hampshire. Cpl. Bruce McKay, 48, of the Franconia Police Department was shot four times before being run over by Liko Kenney, who is half the officer's age. Kenney was shot and killed by a passer-by, Gregory Floyd, who pulled his car over after witnessing what had happened, grabbed McKay's service weapon and shot Kenney while Floyd's son used McKay's radio to call for help.

The two deceased, however, have a rocky history. Back in 2003 Kenney was sitting in a parking lot known to be frequented by dealers and addicts when McKay asked to see Kenney's identification. Kenney refused and eventually tried to drive off but McKay was able to block Kenney from leaving and a scuffle involving three other cops ensued, during which Kenney grabbed McKay by the family jewels and McKay responded by clocking him in the face. Kenney was charged with a slew of charges from the incident and the next month was caught violating his probation by Cpl. McKay. In an unrelated incident, Liko Kenney copped to choking a 15 year old boy in January of this year, so it's obvious that Kenney had a violent history. It goes without saying that Liko Kenney probably was not McKay's biggest fan and that McKay pulling Kenney over for a speeding violation may have sent the young man over the edge and pushed him to kill McKay.

The story takes yet another couple of turns before finally playing out completely, reading like a Law & Order script. Kenney's family has come out and said that McKay had harassed Kenney while upper level police officers called McKay a merciful officer who actually supported Kenney by pushing for a lesser sentence from their altercation four years ago. While this language is to be expected from both sides, a third party has entered the fray.

Liko Kenny (Honolulu Advertiser)
A Franconia resident (he's been named by other news sources, but I will not name him because I do not want him to suffer any harsh treatment from McKay's colleagues in the future) has filed a civil complaint saying that McKay had said that he would take great lengths to "get rid of" the man, all the while suggestively alluding to his weapon while in uniform and with his police cruiser. The outcome of the case was unavailable.

The man who stopped his car and shot Kenney after McKay's death, Gregory Floyd, has not escaped the long arm of the long in his past, either. Floyd, a former Marine, was charged with unlawful gun possession after his neighbors complained of his habit of shooting automatic weapons on his property and the cops subsequently found six guns.

So here's what does not add up: why was Kenney out in the streets after assaulting a young boy not 5 months earlier? Just as a quick summary, Kenney received only 15 days for assaulting a police officer and received only a $250 fine for choking the young boy earlier this year. I don't know how the justice system works up in Franconia, but repeat offenders usually at least get probation or jail time for assaults, not just a fine. 

Secondly, why was Floyd cleared of any wrongdoing so quickly after the incident? It took Franconia officials less than 24 hours to clear Floyd, who has priors involving guns. This is especially surprising because Floyd has told New Hampshire state troopers in the past the method that he would use to kill them and told them he was a good shot because of his time with the Marines. In the linked article it also says that Floyd had threatened a meter reader and had a felony drug charge down South (it was only weed, but still, it had to be a lot for a felony.) Additionally, if Floyd had time to stop his car, grab McKay's gun, point it at Kenney and demand that he drop his gun before shooting him, how much danger was he really in? Wouldn't Kenney just have opened fire on Floyd when he got out of his car, or when he grabbed McKay's gun, or he pointed it at him?

The scene of the incident (Police One)
So what really happened out on that road Friday night? To be honest, we most likely will never know fully unless Franconia cops have good cameras on all of their cruisers that actually work. Did McKay threaten Kenney, who already felt victimized by the officer, making Kenney feel like he had to defend himself, or, which seems more likely if this scenario is true, sending Kenney into a murderous rage? Or was McKay just doing his job and Kenney, a young man who had been on the wrong side of the law numerous times in his short life, just snapped? Did Gregory Floyd stop his car on the side of the road as a concerned citizen looking to help out, or was he attracted by the prospect of shooting someone, which fit in well with his borderline obsession with guns? There are so many scenarios that fit into this situation and there are so many questions that have yet to be answered, despite the investigation's hasty conclusions regarding some people involved. A comprehensive investigation that lasts more than a day or two needs to be undertaken in order to sort out the details of this incident, as many of the people involved have complicated connections to each other and to the situation that should not be ignored.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Battered Woman Syndrome

First of all, my apologies for not posting in a long time, but I had finals until Wednesday and took a couple of days off. That does not mean that there have not been stories out there that I have wanted to write about, such as this one or this one, but I need to balance freshness of stories and the importance of them. Of course those two stories that I just pointed out are important and have wide-ranging implications for our society and how certain people in it are treated. But there was one story that really caught my eye and it involves one of the sleaziest things a person can do: abusing a woman. However, this is not just anyone abusing a woman, it is (drum roll, please) a police officer abusing his girlfriend. According to the article, Boston Police Lieutenant David C. Murphy clocked his girlfriend in the face in a Baltimore bar, ran to a Marriott hotel and was arrested by Baltimore Police. Despite numerous witnesses having seen what Murphy did to his girlfriend, including the bartender who called the cops, Murphy's victim said it was all a big "misunderstanding." The Baltimore State Attorney disagrees and is charging Murphy with second-degree assault for his actions.

But here lies the problem: this is not the first time that Lieutenant Murphy has been charged in beating his girlfriend. According to a Weymouth police official, Murphy was arrested following an incident during which he threw something at the woman (the same girlfriend who was punched in Baltimore), cutting her on the forehead. These charges were dropped however, when the girlfriend refused to press charges, much to the chagrin of the Norfolk DA. This brings up numerous questions that need answers. First of all, why is the police officer just being suspended now if his first arrest for assaulting his girlfriend in Weymouth was the end of last October? This means that the Boston Police Department continued to employ the lieutenant after his arrest for domestic assault, knowing full well that he had thrown something at his girlfriend and cut up her head. Secondly, why is he allowed to leave the state of Maryland following his arrest there? Especially considering that this is the second time that he has been arrested for assaulting this unknown woman, a bond of $5,000 and permission to leave the state while waiting for his May 29 court date. While the state attorney did the right thing by charging Murphy, he should also do the right thing and keep the disgraced cop on a tighter watch. Thirdly, why is Murphy's girlfriend defending him? Unfortunately this is not something that is extremely rare in America. In fact, it is common enough in our society that there is a name for it - battered woman syndrome. It appears that Murphy's girlfriend might be in the denial stage, as she appears to be making excuses for her abusive boyfriend. Obviously I'm no shrink, but this seems pretty clear-cut.

I wish I could say that the story ends here. It doesn't. In addition to Murphy's light bond and non-existent restrictions for interstate travel (I find it hard to imagine that if a civilian beat their girlfriend twice they would be able to leave the state where the second assault happened), he is still being paid by the Boston Police Department. While this is not surprising from a department who has allowed men like this to get their pensions and allowed an extensive drug ring to operate under their noses, it is highly disturbing. There is clearly a pattern here and men who beat their wives/girlfriends usually don't stop unless they end up behind bars. Hopefully Murphy's girlfriend will wake up from her nightmare and realize the danger she is putting herself in. In fact, there was just an incident in New York when a cop killed his girlfriend with his service weapon following an argument. However, there is some danger for Murphy in all of this because the battered woman syndrome defense has been used successfully in cases when an abused wife or girlfriend has turned the tables on their abusive man and killed him. Hopefully these two do not reach that stage, but it has happened in the past and will happen in the future. So at the end of the day, we need to ensure that our police officers are held up to the same standards of the law that we as civilians are or incidents like this will continue to happen. Peace.

Photos - Top: A Boston Police Department badge (, Bottom: Boston Police cruiser (