Archive for February 17th, 2014

by jhwygirl

I am still stuck at page 17 of the damning USDOJ report serving as all but an indictment of Fred Van Valkenburg, pretty much because I can’t see fit to stomach more shirking of duties and violations of basic civil rights by Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg’s criminal department. More than a few things have stuck with me. I’ve also had some time to read the comments at the Missoulian, too, and feel like firing off on two items this rain-soaked evening.

First off, it appears from the comments to the Missoulian article there is still a large contingent of people out there that seem to hold on to Van Valkenburg’s dream that the USDOJ does not hold authority over his office. Many of these people don’t even address the veracity of the USDOJ report – confirming that rape nation and rape apologists and rape culture thrive here in Missoula.

Scary disgusting stuff, really.

Less disturbing in the comments – but still troubling – is the apparent lack of reading comprehension skills among this group of people. It’s not like they had to read to page 12 or anything. The USDOJ summarily dismisses Van Valkenburg’s whining about the USDOJ’s lack of authority over his office quite thoroughly beginning right there on page one. In the end, the mere fact that Van Valkenburg’s office has taken federal monies suffices here – which I might add illustrates yet another legal inadequacy of Fred Van Valkenburg: contractual law.

Oh, I may as well throw in one more legal inadequacy here – the ability to select competent counsel, since he’s dropped $50K into outside counsel to fight the feds on this point.

I look forward to the Federal District Court’s summary judgement here on this point. A summary judgement is, shall we say, a pretty embarrassing way to lose a case?

The second thing I want to take on this evening is what the title suggests – Van Valkenburg’s office’s role in the USDOJ’s investigation and subsequent settlement with the City of Missoula Police. Here, again, the USDOJ lays out repeated situations where the police investigated and documented only to have their work fall into the black cave that we now know is Van Valkenburg’s County Attorney’s Office.

City police apparently got so frustrated with their work going no where, that they created a summary sheet with a spot for the county attorney’s office to provide feedback. Frequently, these weren’t even returned – and when they were, they usually contained only two words: “insufficient evidence.”

That occurred, btw, on a case where the rapist confessed.

Missoula Police are well-trained. Many would say, too much so. This aspect does, though, bode well – or should – for victims of violent crime. Missoulians certainly are getting their tax dollar’s worth in this aspect. But if Van Valkenburg’s tutelage is failing victims of sexual assault, it’s surely failing us in prosecution of other victims of violent crimes as well.

Van Valkenburg has made much of his complaint that the feds want him to have his own staff investigator. Here, too, the USDOJ makes hay of Van Valkenburg’s claims, pointing out that his office fails to coordinate with the police. While they also fail to coordinate with the police, his office also fails to tell the police where further evidence might be obtained to make a case more easily prosecuted. They’re not telling him to hire his own investigator – they’re telling him he should work together with his law enforcement colleagues.

Which is kinda what the police were looking for when they created a summary sheet and a blank section looking for feedback.

City of Missoula Police referred 85 cases to to the county attorney’s office for prosecution between 2008 and 2012. Charges were only filed on 14. Now, think about that: In an unknown number of reported sexual assaults, the well-trained Missoula Police investigated and came to the conclusion that they had sufficient evidence to file charges on 85 cases, yet the county attorney’s office eliminated 83% of them, without even any feedback to police in 29 of those..

Would that shatter any police officer’s work ethic if 83% of your efforts on just sexual assault crimes were shot down by the county attorney’s office?

From page 9:

In addition, Missoula County Attorney’s Office’s approach to sexual violence in Missoula has had significant, detrimental impacts on the law enforcement community’s overall response to sexual assault. The work of Missoula Police detectives is compromised by the fact that, even if the expend the resources to conduct a comprehensive investigation, the County Attorney’s Office often will not even charge the case. One woman reported that the Missoula Police detective in her case informed her that because “no one had a limb cut off and there was no video of the incident,” prosecutors “wouldn’t see this [the rape} as anything more than a girl getting drunk at a party.” whether or not the detective’s characterization was correct, the County Attorney’s actions over time left this detective – and many others like him – with the understanding that non-stranger sexual assault of women, and especially drug-facilitated sexual assault, mut involve physical force or overwhelming and irrefutable evidence to be considered a crime worthy of prosecution.

Mother Jones reporter and Montana native Dana Liebelson quotes a statement emailed to her by Van Valkenburg: “I think that everything the DOJ is saying about our office is false. These people are as unethical as any I have ever seen. They obviously have a political agenda they want to push and the truth does not matter to them.”

Really Fred? you want to go down whining like an 8 year old? Everyone’s picking on you?

If we’re to believe Van Valkenburg, confessed rapists lie, rape victims lie, and yes, even the Missoula Police lie.

I’m not buying it, and I’m not sorry that I don’t. And neither should you.

Advertisements

by lizard

It’s too bad Bob Dylan didn’t die like a decade ago, because then maybe we could remember him for being the folk-strumming poet of a generation that he was. I say was because one can make a good case that, though Bob Dylan is still alive, his integrity is dead. If you think that’s harsh, read Bob Dylan and the Ethics of Market Fascism at Truthout eviscerating the terrible Chrysler commercial featuring Dylan which aired during the Super Bowl. Here’s a snip from the article:

When corporatism manages to buy the soul of an icon, the poet of the American civil rights movement, we are witnessing a clear sign of the market becoming an Ethics in itself. This is the man who, in May of 1963, walked out of “The Ed Sullivan Show” after CBS executives asked him not to sing “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues,” because it would offend the racist right-wing John Birch Society. Bob Dylan inspired many Americans then. But he must have broken many a liberal and progressive heart with his awfully scripted Chrysler commercial, which is filled with jingoistic lines about American pride and a seriously proto-fascist undertone.

It’s fitting that Dylan killed what little scraps of integrity he had left with a commercial—in terms of mediums, it’s the quintessential vehicle for the ubiquitous consumerism we are all entangled in. And though Dylan is just one symbolic loss on the road to a modern realization of Orwell’s 1984, it feels like a major blow to the once hopeful imagination of the Baby Boomer generation.

Speaking of idealistic Baby Boomers who became willing peddlers of neoliberalism, I was poking around this morning looking for some info on Bill Clinton’s Telecommunication Act and I found this hilarious depiction, which includes gems like this paragraph describing the act’s goals:

The main goal of the Telecommunications Act was to free up the market in the communications industry. President Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and a majority of the members of Congress supported the Telecommunications Act because it would give members of the public more choices in terms of the telephone services and media they could enjoy at home. This increase in choices would in turn allow Americans to subscribe to various communications services at prices they could afford. Since the Internet had become an important part of many Americans’ lives by this time, federal leaders also wanted to place regulations on it that would protect children from stumbling upon pornographic material. In addition, they hoped to make television more family-friendly by giving parents advanced warnings about the types of content programs might contain.

Choice, competition, lower prices. That is what I call a giant load of bullshit, which should be obvious as Comcast tries to merge with Time-Warner, further exposing the consolidation of our media landscape. In 1983, there were 50 media companies. Now there are just 6, and they are corporate monsters.

So what does this latest merger mean? It could mean Coming Soon: the United States of Comcast (New Republic):

Large companies, even monopolies, are not necessarily contrary to the public interest if they are strictly and intelligently regulated. But in the wake of the 1996 telecommunications act (which idiotically assumed that deregulation would lead to competition) and a pliant Federal Communications Commission, the big telecom companies have progressively avoided regulation. As a result, they are already committing many of the abuses that come with monopoly power, and if the new merger passes muster, will do so with a vengeance.

Monopolies make it more difficult for new entrants to compete. As a result, they allow the larger companies to raise prices without fearing a loss of market share. Since deregulation in 1996, cable prices have risen at about three times the rate of inflation. According to a study from the Free Press, prices for expanded cable service (what most consumers purchase) went up five percent from 2008 top 2013 –almost four times the rate of inflation. Monopolies also allow companies to neglect service to consumers. The American Customer Satisfaction Index rated Comcast and Time-Warner the two worst cable and broadband companies.

Monopolies can also have a corrosive effect on related industries. The big cable companies have been able to squeeze cable content providers—even to cut off access to customers, as Time-Warner did with CBS last fall. If they also own content providers, as Comcast does, they can harm rival content providers—as Comcast seems to be doing to Netflix.

Monopolies also slow innovation, because companies have less incentive to replace older equipment. That was a major argument for the breakup of the old AT&T telephone monopoly in 1982. According to a report from the New America Foundation’s, Open Technology Institute, the United States has lagged behind other countries in the price and quality of its broadband service. The American city with the highest quality internet is Chattanooga, Tennessee, which gets its service from a municipally owned provider.

Under the new merger, the new company—let’s call it Xsanity—will be in an even stronger position to raise prices, neglect service to its customers, squeeze content providers, harm rival content providers and slow innovation. If local, state or national officials attempt to police them, the single big company will have even greater clout. Of course, Comcast will promise to keep prices down, enforce net neutrality, and spur innovation. There is reason, however, not to take these promises seriously.

The times they are certainly changing…but not for the better.




  • Pages

  • Recent Comments

    Miles on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    success rate for In… on Thirty years ago ARCO killed A…
    Warrior for the Lord on The Dark Side of Colorado
    Linda Kelley-Miller on The Dark Side of Colorado
    Dan on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    Former Prosecutor Se… on Former Chief Deputy County Att…
    JediPeaceFrog on Montana AG Tim Fox and US Rep.…
  • Recent Posts

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,672,061 hits
  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 2,737 other followers

  • February 2014
    S M T W T F S
    « Jan   Mar »
     1
    2345678
    9101112131415
    16171819202122
    232425262728  
  • Categories