Thursday, February 16, 2012

Driver Who Struck And Killed 13-Year-Old Collin Worland In West Jordan Will Not Face Vehicular Homicide Charges; Pedestrian Bridge Could Cost $1.5 Million

This story caught my attention because there are no "bad guys"; it was merely a confluence of inexperience at life and unfavorable conditions. A driver who struck and killed a 13-year-old West Hills Middle School student will not face felony charges of vehicular homicide and substance abuse, although he may still face undetermined misdemeanor charges. KSL news video embedded below:

Driver who killed teen won't face felony charges |

The incident occurred on November 2nd, 2011 near 5600 West and 8200 South in West Jordan, Utah just before 7:30 A.M. Collin Worland and two classmates were enroute to the middle school when they attempted to cross 5600 West during peak traffic hours. Instead of using a marked crosswalk, they chose to cross about 200 yards north of the crosswalk. The three had done it before and believed they could do it safely. Two of them guessed right -- but Collin Worland guessed wrong. He was struck and killed in middle of street by a full-size passenger vehicle driven by a 19-year-old identified in this comment as Henry Gomez, who was subsequently found to have THC in his system from smoking marijuana.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney's office screened possible felony charges for vehicular homicide and substance abuse, but found out that although the driver had metabolized THC in his system, he was not under the influence of marijuana. That means he smoked dope the night before, which illustrates that even after one is no longer high, THC can remain in one's system. So the DA chose not to press charges, although the West Jordan city prosecutor has not ruled out possible misdemeanor charges. Emphasis will now be re-directed towards making the 5600 West crossing safer, and the YouTube video below, filmed at 7:40 A.M. on November 3rd, the day after the accident, illustrates the traffic and environmental conditions prevalent during that time of day. Heavy rush hour traffic and darkness could make it difficult to see someone who's wearing dark clothing darting across the street; a motorist could also be partially blinded by the lights of opposing traffic.

Some have suggested there should be a crossing guard assigned to the crosswalk. You'll note that there is a 20 MPH school zone sign, but Collin's mother Erin Worland posted a comment to YouTube stating that it is not normally turned on for middle school kids. Generally, only elementary school kids are considered to be in need of the extra protection. Some have also recommended that a pedestrian bridge be built over 5600 West, but a bridge can cost as much as $1.5 million. Whether or not it's built will depend upon how much the construction of the new Mountain View Corridor would affect rush hour traffic volume on 5600 West.

By all accounts, Collin Worland was not some chronic risk-taker who sought to constantly push the envelope; he was a responsible young teen who did well in school and wanted to join the military upon reaching maturity. Tributes to Collin have been posted on the Remembering Collin Worland Facebook page, still active. Helping the family in their recovery is the fact that they are people of faith; they are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While LDS membership does not provide an escape clause from grief, it does provide a strategy to successfully manage and overcome its effects. LDS members believe one of the purposes of mortality is to experience the full range of human emotions so we can learn how to manage and control those emotions successfully. The Worland family apparently holds no ill will against the driver, Henry Gomez.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Josh Powell And Two Sons Die In Explosion And Fire In Graham, Washington; Speculation Of Possible Murder-Suicide Surfaces

Update February 6th: Media sources are now reporting that the CPS caseworker smelled gasoline rather than natural gas at the Powell home; this post has been re-titled and updated to reflect this new information.

The story of the missing Susan Powell took a fatal turn on February 5th, 2012 with the report that her husband Josh Powell and their two sons, five-year-old Braden and seven-year-old Charles, have died in an explosion and fire which took place at their house in Graham, Washington. Police are awaiting formal verification of the victims' identity from the Medical Examiner’s Office. And on the Salt Lake Tribune discussion boards, there's rampant speculation that it could have been a murder-suicide. CNN has now published a report, and KOMO Channel 4 and KIRO Channel 7 in Seattle also have the stories and photos of the scene. KING Channel 5 news video below:

KSL news video:

Josh Powell, 2 sons killed in house explosion |

A case worker from Child Protective Services had just dropped off Powell’s sons at the home located in the 8100 block of 189th Street Court East in Graham for a supervised visit. Powell then immediately shut the door on the caseworker and locked it. However, the caseworker reported detecting the smell of gasoline emanating from the house. About three minutes later, at approximately 12:30 P.M PST., the house exploded.

It is because Powell shut and locked the door on the caseworker that some people believe it was a murder-suicide. If the caseworker could smell gasoline emanating from home during the brief time the door was open, how could Josh Powell not have smelled it? Of course, it is entirely possible that Powell could have slowly become acclimated to the gas smell where he may not have noticed anything different. But why would he close the door on the caseworker so abruptly? The Pierce County Sheriff's Office believes this explosion was intentional, and investigators have found evidence of accelerants spread throughout the residence. The Tacoma News-Tribune reported that Powell’s attorney Jeffrey Bassett received an e-mail time-stamped 12:05 P.M., less than 30 minutes before the explosion, which read “I’m sorry, goodbye.” Unfortunately, Bassett wasn't prompted to check his e-mail account until after he learned of the explosion.

The fact is, many Utahns have already tried and convicted Josh Powell in their hearts because of the unusual circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Susan Powell. On the same night of her disappearance, Josh took his two sons on a spur of the moment "camping trip" out in the west desert of Utah despite an approaching winter storm and temperatures hovering near freezing. Susan Powell was still at home when they left, but was gone upon their return. Upon their return, Josh Powell seemed initially reluctant to cooperate fully with police. Many people also criticized Josh for his lack of visible emotional reaction, but there are people who simply are not wired to react emotionally to tragedy. Josh Powell then took his two sons and moved back to Washington State, after which he tried to claim that Susan Powell ran off with another man. Stories of difficulty in the Powell marriage surfaced, with reports that Susan Powell felt that Josh was too controlling. All these factors combined turned many Utahns against him.

You can review all previous posts on this case HERE, with the most recent post displayed first, to get more background on this case. The Salt Lake Tribune has a more abridged timeline of the case HERE.

Josh Powell has been coming under increased legal pressure lately. On February 1st, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Kathryn J. Nelson rejected a request by Josh Powell that custody of his two sons be transferred to him, and ruled that the boys should remain in the custody of Susan Powell's parents. Judge Nelson also ruled that Josh Powell must undergo a psychosexual evaluation and polygraph test because of alleged extreme child porn found in the Puyallup home where Josh was living with the two boys and his parents after Susan's disappearance. Attorney Jeffrey Bassett said Powell was quite upset by this development.

Powell's brother-in law Kirk Graves of West Jordan, Utah, said the family was stunned by the news, and never contemplated Josh would do something like this. He told the Salt Lake Tribune that he takes the explosion as an admission of guilt in Susan's case. "In my personal opinion this is Josh's admission, that he did it. I know others won't interpret it that way". Watch Graves' reaction on the video below:

Steve Downing, who represented Susan Powell’s parents in the custody fight, made a rather chilling disclosure. He said the children had started talking to their grandparents about things they remembered from the night their mother vanished, and seven-year-old Charles reportedly talked about their camping trip, saying that "...Mommy was in the trunk. Mom and Dad got out of the car and Mom disappeared..."

Investigators will be able to determine whether or not this is a murder-suicide, but they won't be able to determine where Susan Powell is. Additional reaction is posted on the Friends and Family of Susan Powell Facebook page.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Anonymous Cyberterrorists Hack Salt Lake Police Department Website In Protest Of Senator Karen Mayne's SB107 Anti-Grafitti Bill

After a busy weekend hacking a bunch of white nationalist websites, the cyberterrorist group Anonymous decided to expand their reach on Tuesday January 31st, 2012, and hack the Salt Lake City Police Department's website. As a result, SLCPD voluntarily took their website offline until it can be repaired.

SLCPD explained that although the names and email addresses of people who signed up for department press releases or daily summaries of notable incidents in the city may have been compromised, no confidential information was taken from the site. The website was built as a standalone communication feature to increase dialogue about public safety issues in a proactive manner, and was deliberately excluded from integration with other SLCPD or City databases.

Group hacks into SLCPD website over graffiti bill |

Anonymous is unhappy with Utah SB107, authored by Senator Karen Mayne (D-West Valley City). The bill amends Utah Code 76-6-107 to make possession of graffiti tools such as spray paint a class B misdemeanor if the person intends to deface property. Since this is not a strict liability amendment, this means intent would have to be proven in court. But this did not deter Anonymous, which issued a statement explaining their actions. They characterize SB107 as resolving an inconvenience with a flamethrower. They spew a bunch of paranoid conspiracy nonsense about how law enforcement supposedly functions as a "mindless machine led by InfraGard, PERF, and other domestic civil intelligence networks". They fantasize about how this will lead to corporations selling miniature drones to police officers chasing 13-year-olds. And of course, like all progressives, they blame vandalism and grafitti on "poverty" rather than individual character deficiency. They also brag about their activity on Twitter.

In a separate statement, Sen. Mayne explained that she sponsored the bill after being approached by frustrated police agencies that said their hands were legally tied to do anything to obvious would-be taggers or graffiti vandals. She said the bill is now in the hands of the legislature.

Apparently there are some Anonymous sympathizers who've praised them and made excuses for them in the KSL comments section. Perhaps none of them operate websites or understand the frustration of rebuilding a hacked website. The bottom line -- because Anonymous has done this so often and has targeted anyone with whom they disagree, compromising their First Amendment rights, Anonymous can best be described as cyberterrorists. The best punishment for them, when caught, would be five years in a corrective labor camp at hard labor. This means working 12 hours per day, six days per week. They'll be so tired they won't have the energy to hack anyone else.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Former Alta High Vice-Principal Mark Montague Settles Grievance With Canyons School District, But Still Resigns From District

On January 24th, 2012, what hopefully is the final chapter in the anti-racist witch hunt against Alta High School was played out when the school's former vice-principal, Mark Montague, reached a confidentiality agreement with the Canyons School District to settle a grievance filed against them. However, Montague still resigned from the district altogether, walking away from the vice-principal's job at Butler Middle School where he was placed after Superintendent David Doty's purge of the top leadership at Alta High.

For background, all previous posts on the Alta High incident are available HERE, with the most recent post displaying first. KSL news video embedded below:

Alta High VP reaches settlement with Canyons district over racism row |

Montague was smeared and defamed by the district after the so-called "Klan hood incident" which took place in March 2011 at Alta High. A reprimand letter had been placed in Montague’s file which also mentioned other incidents, including a football player taunting a black player in 2009 with a noose fashioned from duct tape, and a fight between a white student and black student that occurred off campus. Montague wanted the letter removed from his file. In addition, Montague specified in his grievance letter that the offending students were suspended and the incidents handled with the involvement of several administrators and officials. It also noted that Montague had been officially gagged by Superintendent Doty, prohibiting him from discussing the incident and defending his conduct, while the district imposed no such gag upon itself. Much of the community realized that Doty was not looking to solve problems, but to find scapegoats.

Although the terms of the settlement are confidential, the letter and all related documents containing false, misleading and defamatory information were removed from his file. This means the incident will not serve as a major barrier to employment by another public school district or a private school. However, the district has refused to issue a public formal apology for the manner in which they treated Montague.

Nevertheless, Montague seems satisfied with the outcome. "It was gratifying to have it acknowledged that there was absolutely no finding of racism or condoning of racism on my part. Throughout this ordeal, I’ve heard from former students who told me that they believed in me and let me know I made a difference in their lives”, said Montague. Read the complete statement from Montague's attorney HERE. Overwhelming support for Montague continues to be expressed in the comments section of the Salt Lake Tribune story.

The Canyons School District further embarrassed itself and became an object of national derision when they announced their rejection of the nickname "Cougars" for the new Corner Canyon High School in Draper on January 19th because the term "cougar" is associated with older women who sexually prey on younger men, although a second reason was to distinguish itself from Brigham Young University. Media all over the country picked up the story and poked fun at the district -- and Utah -- for political correctness and puritanism; even the United Kingdom's Daily Mail reported on it.

Under the leadership of David Doty, the Canyons School District has become a laughing stock -- and a cancer upon the body politic of public education in Utah. But local taxpayers are not without recourse; so long as Doty remains superintendent, they can vote to reject any future school bonds floated by the district. Perhaps if taxpayers hit the district in their wallet enough times, the district will get the message that it's supposed to do what the people want.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Political Correctness In Utah: Corner Canyon High School's Nickname Will Be Chargers Because Cougars Is Considered Derogatory To Women

Another storm of political correctness has broken over the Canyons School District in the Salt Lake Valley, albeit not quite as destructive as the anti-racist witch hunt at Alta High School in 2011. The Canyons School District announced on January 19th, 2012 that they had rejected the nickname Cougars and accepted the nickname Chargers for the new Corner Canyon High School in Draper. The reason: "Cougars" is considered derogatory to women, because it has become a cultural term describing older women who seek intimate companionship with younger men.

On December 6th, 2011, the Canyons Board of Education selected Corner Canyon High School as the name of the new high school in Draper, and solicited public input for the new school's nickname and colors. They decided to distribute ballots with the names Mountain Lions, Cougars, Diamondbacks, Falcons, Raptors, Broncos, Bears, Cavaliers and Chargers to 4,300 prospective student body members currently in grades K-8 at various feeder schools which will supply students to the new high school.

When the ballots were counted, they showed 273 students wanted Cougars, 180 wanted Diamondbacks, 171 wanted Falcons and 141 wanted Raptors. However, some parents and patrons complained to board members, saying they were uncomfortable with the idea that their daughters on the drill team and cheerleading squad would be called Cougars, while other parents and students said they did not want to share a mascot with BYU, since the two schools colors would already be similar. So on January 17th, the board decided to ignore the students' choice and selected Chargers as the school's nickname. The summary of the board meeting indicates the vote was unanimous. The District did make it clear at the outset that the students' vote would only be an advisory vote, and that the Board would make the final decision.

The official board agenda for the January 17th meeting provides some useful background and additional research the board took into consideration before making the decision.

But it's the district's explanation after the fact that's a bit nauseating. District spokeswoman Jennifer Toomer-Cook said, "The board said this is a brand new school and we want to unite the community. And if there's something out there that could divide it, let's not go there". But if their intent was to avoid dividing the community, they achieved precisely the opposite effect, as the comments sections to KSL Channel 5, KSTU Channel 13, and the Deseret News show universal disapproval of the decision. One person posted this particularly cogent comment on the Deseret News:

John Charity Spring | 7:20 p.m. Jan. 19, 2012 Back Home In Davis County, UT:
This decision is proof positive that left wing extremism has infiltrated the education system to an alarming degree. Indeed, this is political correctness at its worst.

This left wing doctrine teaches that everything dealing with education must be reduced to the blandest possible level so that no possible offense could be taken by any possible person. Thus, a mascot name that merely represents a powerful creature of nature is suddenly transformed into a symbol of unrestrained sexual deviance. There is something wrong with an administrator who would react to a students suggestion of this mascot with thoughts of sexual activity between lustful older women and impressionable young men.

It is time for parents to stand up to this doctrine of political correctness that turns even the most benign of activities into artificially controversial subjects. Let this school have this honorable mascot.

Two school board members were particularly enthused about choosing the Charger nickname. Dr. Paul McCarty said "the Charger — a war horse — is entirely appropriate. The horse has been a prominent animal in Draper.” And Kevin Cromar said “I like the alliteration; I like the appeal. It’s something that will unify the community.” Contact information for all school board members is available HERE; since the board's vote was unanimous, it might be useful to compose one e-mail directed to the board president, Tracy Cowdell, and send info copies to the other board members.

There are two other ways to get even. First consider running for a board seat during the next election. Second, consider hitting them in the wallet by voting No the next time the district floats a bond.