June 16, 2007 in Opinion

Smart Bombs: Vroom for improvement

Gary Crooks The Spokesman-Review
 
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Background and the latest updates

My car can go 140 miles per hour, or so the speedometer says. That’s twice the speed limit when traveling to Seattle on Interstate 90. In some parts of West Texas, the limit is 80 mph, which is the nation’s highest. It’s odd that cars are built to go so much faster than the law allows. It’s like adding features to a rifle that would be illegal if you ever used them.

Gimme a brake. Can you believe the dang gas prices these days? It’s getting to be so bad that we might have to consider driving the speed limit.

Don’t go there. The city of Spokane routinely sends out “Weekly Obstruction” notices. No, they’re not about public records requests. They’re to warn drivers what areas of town to avoid because of road construction, and they’re actually quite helpful.

Unlike, um, let’s move on.

Searches warranted? In the Otto Zehm case, police got a search warrant for his medical records after he died in police custody. In the Trent Yohe case, the police were brought in to review the actions of Spokane County sheriff’s deputies after Yohe died following an in-custody scuffle. Detectives immediately got a search warrant for his medical records.

Typically, search warrants are sought before charging suspects with crimes. It’s not clear why police needed the medical records of Zehm, who had been dead for nine days, or Yohe, who was unconscious. Both cases are under investigation, so answers aren’t forthcoming. But when the time is right, it would be nice to know why the department thinks it needs the medical records of suspects, even after they’ve died.

As criminal defense attorney Jeffry Finer, who also teaches at Gonzaga University, said about the Zehm case: “I’ve got to tell you, I’ve never heard of it. I don’t know how they would have the authority to advance an investigation into a dead person.”

Fossil. Vice President Dick Cheney has uttered many things that will be of interest to historians in the years to come, but my candidate for the most irresponsible will be when he rejected government’s role in getting people to practice conservation:

“Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy,” he said in 2001, after convening his energy task force dominated by officials from fossil fuel industries.

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council notes that in the past 25 years, the Northwest has avoided building the equivalent of three 1,000-megawatt power plants because of conservation efforts. It sees the potential to recoup nearly that much in the next 20 years via conservation.

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