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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Past opinions offer perspective

Looking Back reviews opinions published in The Spokesman-Review during this week in history

Pinchot’s death, Oct. 7, 1946

The death of pioneering forester Gifford Pinchot prompted words of praise from the S-R editorial board.

“Gifford Pinchot, who died Saturday at the age of 81, leaves a monument to his memory in the forest conservation program which he established as chief forester in the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt, and to which he devoted the greater part of his long and strenuous career with unquenchable enthusiasm.

“In that exciting era of the dynamic Teddy, when doing battle with big corporate interests and entrenched privilege kept politics at a white-hot pitch, Gifford Pinchot was a central and often controversial figure.”

Ruby Ridge, Oct. 8, 1996

An editorial praised legislation that aided the family of U.S. Marshal William Degan, who was killed during the standoff at Ruby Ridge, Idaho.

“On Thursday, President Bill Clinton signed legislation that requires the government to pay for the college education of spouses and children of federal agents killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. The late U.S. Marshal William Degan’s younger son, now a high school senior, will be among the first to benefit from the new law. It’s only fair.

“After all, his father died in a 1992 firefight because Randy Weaver refused to surrender to federal authorities on a relatively minor gun charge. As a result of mistakes made by U.S. marshals that day and by federal agents during the siege that followed, Weaver received a $100,000 settlement from the federal government. His daughters were given $1 million apiece.

“Meanwhile, Degan’s grief-stricken widow, Karen, was left to pick up the pieces while struggling to put her sons through school. No wonder law enforcement supporters were furious.”

It continued: “Our support for the new law, however, isn’t about who was right or wrong at Ruby Ridge. Both sides blundered. This is about a respected U.S. marshal who left his New England home in August 1992 intending to capture a fugitive considered by his superiors to be very dangerous.”

Otto Zehm, Oct. 6, 2006

An editorial reacted to news that new evidence had emerged in the Otto Zehm case and that the FBI was investigating.

“The good news is that the decision on whether to file criminal charges against police officers in the Otto Zehm case has been postponed. The bad news is that this is the good news. It’s mind-boggling that a prosecutor who took so long had to be told, ‘Not so fast.’

“On March 18, Zehm entered a convenience store to buy a bottle of Pepsi and a Snickers. He left in an ambulance after a lengthy struggle with police officers. Later, he died as a result of that encounter. What’s happened since has driven public confidence in Spokane County’s law and order institutions to such a low level that it was a relief to learn that the case will rest on an investigation by the FBI, which has turned up new evidence.”