Does America’s Finest City Have America’s Funkiest Sidewalks?

Many of San Diego’s 1.5 million residents refer to their home as “America’s Finest City,” and with good reasons:

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But there are some people – residents and visitors alike – who disagree.

Some of those are people who – unfortunately – make headlines like this:

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Because they injured themselves when they fell on a San Diego sidewalk that looked like this:

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It appears that San Diego has a lot of sidewalks – around 5,000 miles – and many of those sidewalks are extremely funky

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, an assessment in 2015 found 108,706 sidewalk repairs were needed.  As of mid-January 2019, just over 27,000 of those repairs had been completed, leaving 81,000 more.

Plus any new problems that have arisen, and we can assume they have arisen:

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Sidewalks aren’t something most of us think about.  We stroll on them, jog on them, walk our dogs on them, go to work or out to dinner or to the grocery store on them.

All without thinking about them.

Sidewalks are just there, and we rarely look down at them.

Perhaps that’s what happened to bicyclist Clifford Brown in central San Diego in 2017 – he was watching where he was going instead of looking down at the sidewalk.

Specifically, this sidewalk:

Payout nearly $5 million

Brown was launched 28 feet on his bike which tore some of his spinal cord ligaments, knocked out several teeth and caused brain damage that left him incapable of functioning independently.

Not all injuries are as serious as Brown’s, and few, if any, settlements are as big as Brown’s – $4.85 million.

But even with smaller settlements, San Diego has been forced to cover more than $11 million in injury payouts for sidewalk lawsuits over the last five years.

To be accurate, “San Diego” didn’t pay more than $11 million – taxpayers did.

But who is responsible for sidewalks that look like this?

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The answer:  “It depends,” said one helpful lawyer.

Again, according to the Union-Tribune:

“While the city is responsible for sidewalk damage caused by vehicle crashes, water main breaks and trees within the right-of-way, state law makes property owners responsible for the normal wear and tear of sidewalks adjacent to their property.”

OK, so property owners are responsible, and…

“Upon notification of a broken sidewalk, the city will mail the abutting property owner a notice of liability.”

And you, as a good citizen, start looking into fixing that #*%!#*! sidewalk.

Then, from San Diego comes this surprise:

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More than $2,000 in city permit fees before you fix your sidewalk:

“While permit fees vary by location, city officials said they typically amount to more than $2,000 per repair.  That includes a traffic control permit, a right-of-way permit, a mapping fee, a maintenance fee, a records fees and an inspection.”

That’s right.

In San Diego you can’t just be a good citizen and hire a contractor to remove the broken sidewalk and replace it.

You must secure city permits as listed above.

hard hat on phone_01 croppedLet’s delve a bit into just what all that bureaucratic bullshit is for:

“Traffic control permit”:  This is the San Diego city employee in a hard hat and orange safety vest who, during your sidewalk repairs, stands at the curb next to the sidewalk, waving traffic by while he plays AdventureQuest 3D on his phone.

“Right-of-way permit”:  These are two city employees in hard hats and orange safety vests who will drive to the broken sidewalk location, look at it and say, “Yup, that sucker needs fixing.”

“Mapping fee”:  This is the city employee back at City Hall who uses Google Maps to pinpoint the exact location of the broken sidewalk, needed by the two “right-of-way permit” guys (above) before they go look at the sidewalk, even though they have GPS in their city vehicles.

“Maintenance fee”:  These are 16 city employees in hard hats and orange safety vests hard hats_0-3who stand around watching your contractor and crew repair the sidewalk, all the while debating if the San Diego Padres will still suck this season.

“Records fees”:  These are the five city employees in the Records Department playing AdventureQuest 3D on their phones with the “traffic control permit” guy, and will get around to recording your sidewalk repair…eventually.

“Inspection”:  These are the eight city employees in hard hats and orange safety vests who stop by after the sidewalk work is completed and say, “Yup, that sucker is fixed.”

So the property owner is hit with permit fees plus the cost of the sidewalk repair, and what often happens is…

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“…the average repair cost to the homeowner is over $3,000, which is simply too costly for many homeowners.  As a result, very few residents pay to fix city sidewalks, and the backlog continues to grow, especially in low-income communities.”

And when you see all those fees San Diego tacks on to get your sidewalk fixed, you may very well think, “Nah.  If somebody gets hurt, let ‘em sue the city.”

Here’s the interesting twist.  Even though you, the property owner, are responsible for sidewalk repairs…

“According to the current policy and state law, the city remains liable for injuries that result from broken sidewalks.”

As mentioned above, San Diego taxpayers have been forced to cover more than $11 million in injury payouts for sidewalk lawsuits over the last five years.

But somehow, somewhere, a light bulb came on and someone said, “I’ll bet more people would fix their sidewalks if we got rid of those #*%!#*! permit fees!”

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And – hallelujah – that’s exactly what San Diego recently announced:

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There are some catches, of course:

“The city will temporarily waive more than $2,000 in permit fees that property owners have been paying to fix sidewalks.  The fee waiver will take effect within 90 days and extend through the end of 2020, city officials said.”

But even with the time limit, I’m hopeful.

Perhaps in the upcoming months we’ll see a lot more of this:

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And a lot less of this:

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And this:

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Update January 28, 2020:

Like cities across the country – like the entire country, in fact – San Diego has infrastructure problems.

And likewise, not enough money to fix the problems – as in, a $2 billion gap, according to this article:

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The article says,

“To get a better handle on how dire the situation is, city officials for the first time divided the backlog of projects into two categories:  priority needs and discretionary needs.

“Priority needs are projects required by state mandates or that affect community health and safety.”

I thought that seemed like a reasonable first step and, of course – the sidewalks situation is something that affects “community health and safety.”

But the article continues:

“Discretionary projects are still deemed necessary for the city to achieve appropriate service levels in its neighborhoods.  But they are somewhat less urgent projects, such as sidewalks repairs, bike lanes and new library branches.”

San Diego, seriously?

As mentioned earlier, taxpayers have spent more than $11 million settling sidewalk injury lawsuits over the past five years.

But San Diego is putting sidewalk repairs in the same group as bike lanes – optional – and library branches, also optional?

No wonder this guy is smiling…

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“What The World Needs Now” …Is It Really Another One of These?

To say that there’s been a lot going on in the news would be the grossest of understatements.

So, amidst all the sound and fury, it’s understandable if we miss a story here or there.

Even a story that was carried in many media outlets including The New York Times, Associated Press, Time, Smithsonian, CBS, NBC, and internationally by the BBC.

First there was the Big Reveal:  A new product had been invented!coming-soon (2)

Then there was the Big Build-up:  Coming soon!

Then the Big Debut:  It’s here!

Never mind that the world already had about 7,500 varieties of this item.

Apparently, what the world needed now was one…more…

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At least, that’s what the researchers at Washington State University (WSU) decided, and then spent 20 years studying and developing.

It’s not the cure for a life-threatening disease.

It’s not peace in the Middle East.

It’s not even a better mouse trap.

It’s an apple.

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Specifically, the Cosmic Crisp® brand apple.

Not only does it have its own registered trademark, the Cosmic Crisp® has a $10 million marketing budget, a website, Instagram account, line of promotional items, and its own transportation:

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I wasn’t kidding about the media coverage:

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Yes, Smithsonian called the Cosmic Crisp “the Beyoncé of apples” which I’m sure was intended as a mutual compliment, though it’s uncertain how Beyoncé feels about that.

Why “Cosmic Crisp”?

According to the Smithsonian article,

“Consumer focus groups helped give Cosmic Crisp its name, which alludes to gas-02 (3) fixedwhite specks on its skin that create ‘the image of stars against red sky,’ writes WSU.  The reality is perhaps a little less romantic; as Ellen Gutoskey of Mental Floss points out, the dots are lenticels, or ‘porous openings that allow the apple to exchange gases with its environment.’”

I think we can guess how Beyoncé would feel about that.

Those same creative folks at WSU also said this on the Cosmic Crisp website:

“…a new variety that will change the face of the industry and win enthusiasm among consumers with a combination of taste, texture, and usability.  The Cosmic Crisp® apple demonstrates how the science of breeding and the art of imagination can work together to create an utterly new and delightful apple.”

“Utterly new”?

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“Utterly new”?

Not.

I’d said earlier that there were already around 7,500 varieties of apples, and it occurs to me that the brainiacs at Washington State University might have better spent their time, energy and money developing something we didn’t already have 7,500 varieties of.

But despite all the much-adoing about not much, and the $10 million and the hype and website and Instagram account and spaceship…

I decided to give Cosmic Crisp a try.

And I can tell you this with absolute certainty:

The Cosmic Crisp bears absolutely no resemblance to Beyoncé:

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Trump, I…

I gotta hand it to Trump.

Well, I don’t.

But for purpose of mocking him, I will.

Why?

Because his recent activities bring this old quote to mind:

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Trump is that busy person, but he just keeps doing more!

For example, forget “POTUS” – his industrious efforts have earned Trump the new title of:

TTPTBI:
“The-Third-President-To-Be-Impeached:

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And as Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson can affirm, getting impeached keeps you busy!

But last week, Trump still found the time to travel to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum (WEF), “an opportunity for the world’s most influential people to meld minds over the world’s economic and political challenges, and, more importantly, to network.”

“Meld minds”?

How would Trump do that?

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Well, no matter, because Trump was still busy at the WEF, bullying Greta Thunberg:

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The article noted,

“In a prepared speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Trump took the opportunity to take a swipe at Thunberg – who was in the audience – deriding ‘perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse’ about the environment.  ‘They are the errors of yesterday’s fortune-tellers,’ Trump claimed, ‘and we have them and I have them and they want to see us do badly, but we don’t let that happen,’ adding that in order to ‘embrace the possibilities of tomorrow,’ we must reject the warnings of such individuals.”

Whew!  A 73-year-old man bullying a 16-year-old.

Now that’s busy!

And coming up with all that great alliteration – “perennial prophets…predictions.”

I am in awe of Trump’s always-admirable alliteration.

Yet while busy at the WEF, Trump also found time for this:

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And Politico even did the math for us:

“President Donald Trump posted more than 140 times on Twitter on Wednesday, surpassing his mid-December record for the most daily tweets and retweets during his presidency.

“The president flooded his Twitter account during the second day of the Senate’s impeachment trial, with 41 posts hitting the internet between 12 and 1a.m., or one every 88 seconds, according to the site Factba.se, which tracks and indexes Trump’s tweets and speeches.  He broke his all-time record for retweets, with more than 120 by late Wednesday afternoon.”

A tweet “every 88 seconds”?  Just think how tired his tiny thumbs must be!

So Trump was at the conference, busy being TTPTBI and bullying a teenager and typing those tweets, yet he somehow – clearly, he’s a time management meister – was working long distance as well:

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As one media outlet put it,

“His new rule, which will be implemented in about 60 days, is the latest step in the Trump administration’s push to repeal or weaken nearly 100 environmental rules and laws, loosening or eliminating rules on climate change, clean air, chemical pollution, coal mining, oil drilling and endangered species protections.

“The new water rule for the first time in decades allow landowners and property developers to dump pollutants such as pesticides and fertilizers directly into hundreds of thousands of waterways, and to destroy or fill in wetlands for construction projects.”

He’s a time management meister, indeed – finding the time to roll back yet another of those pesky environmental rules and laws.

More long-distance multi-tasking:

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I guess Trump was too busy to remember that, back when he was running for president, he promised to shield entitlements from cuts?

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And speaking of long distance, before he left for the World Economic Forum – while he was busy packing and stuff – he made sure this happened:

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Yup, thanks to Trump’s vigilance, the brand-new U.S. Space Force – not to be confused with the not-new U.S. Space Command – has a brand-new patch on an old Army camouflage uniform:

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Not to be confused with the U.S. Space Command uniform:

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Well, I presume this is the U.S. Space Command uniform, since this guy is Air Force Space Command Commander General John “Jay” Raymond.

And then – Trump returned to the U.S. and was busy unpacking and stuff, but still found the time to attend an anti-abortion rally at the National Mall:

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Talk about transparency personified!

Vote whore that he is, Trump was obviously pandering to evangelists, parroting their language with phrases including,

“Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House”

“The far left is actively working to erase our God-given rights [and] silence Americans who believe in the sanctity of life.”

“Make it your life’s mission to help spread God’s grace.”

“Sanctity of life”?  “God’s grace”?

Whew!  All that pandering and parroting kept Trump very busy!

So, Trump:  WEF attender, teenager bullier, Twitter leader, environment destroyer, uniform creator, parroter, panderer, women’s choice denier…

Trump is the ultimate time management meister multi-tasking TTPTBI.

And he’s has also mastered this skill set:

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Untested Rape Kits:  A Test Of Our Values

One night this past October at around 3am, a man entered a San Diego nursing home and went into a room where several female residents were sleeping.

He sexually assaulted one of the women, age 88.

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Arline at his preliminary hearing.

When staff members heard the victim and her roommates screaming, they entered the room and the attacker fled.

Just six days later a suspect was arrested:  Lusean Arline, age 48.  Arline was identified as the alleged perpetrator through “evidence left at the scene” that was submitted to the FBI Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).  Police then tracked down Arline with help from the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Arline had prior convictions, including one from 2017 for following two elderly women home to their apartment and exposing himself to the victims.

After his release from prison on October 10, Arline was arrested for a misdemeanor drug offense and jailed until October 24.  He allegedly committed the nursing home sexual assault three days later.

One local TV station noted that Arline has “a long rap sheet”:

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Arline was no stranger to getting caught, and his DNA was no stranger to databases.

DNA – an amazing tool that was unknown in police procedures until the late 1980s, and is now such a common part of our lexicon.  When we hear about a trial that includes DNA evidence, we know that evidence can be a huge part of a conviction.

This time around, Arline is facing felony charges including rape, elder abuse and residential burglary.  If convicted, he faces life in prison.

None of the news stories was specific about that “evidence left at the scene,” but when investigating a suspected sexual assault, police procedure is – if the victim agrees – to collect evidence and preserve it in a sexual assault evidence kit, commonly called a “rape kit”:

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When tested, DNA evidence contained in rape kits can be a powerful tool to solve and prevent crime.

“When tested” are the magic words.

“When tested” are also the problem words.

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Untested rape kits.

Because, according to a July 2019 article in The Atlantic,

“Across the country, as many as 200,000 rape kits sit unopened in police storage while assailants – the people whose genetic fingerprints are decisively coded within such kits – are able to dodge prosecution and, in some cases, strike again.”

That means that in the U.S., thousands of people told law enforcement they were victims of sexual assault, and then subjected themselves to the evidence collecting police procedure.  This includes a doctor or nurse photographing, swabbing and conducting an invasive and exhaustive examination of the victim’s entire body for DNA evidence, a process that takes four to six hours.

How invasive and exhaustive?

Here are the contents of a typical rape kit:

rape kit components

And a list of items commonly included in a rape kit:

  • Instructions
  • Bags and sheets for evidence collection
  • Swabs for collecting fluids from the lips, cheeks, thighs, vagina, anus, and buttocks
  • Sterile urine collection containers
  • Sterile sample containers
  • Blood collection devices
  • Comb used to collect hair and fiber from the victim’s body
  • Clear glass slides
  • Self-sealing envelopes for preserving the victim’s clothes, head hair, pubic hair, and blood samples
  • Nail pick for scraping debris from beneath the nails
  • White sheets to catch physical evidence stripped from the body
  • Documentation forms
  • Labels
  • Sterile water and saline

Clearly it is an “invasive and exhaustive examination,” and clearly, these victims wanted the perpetrators brought to justice.  They wanted the perpetrators prevented from assaulting someone else.

They wanted their day in court, to face the perpetrator.

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Untested rape kits.

They’re still waiting.

Those 200,000 rape kits went to police evidence rooms.

Those untested kits have a name:  Backlog.

Backlog, because the rape kits have been in the evidence rooms, untested, for months, years, even decades.

Why?

Why would any rape kit go untested?

There are lots of answers online; when I googled “untested rape kits” I got 362,000 hits.

First up was endthebacklog.org, and they’re clear about their position on untested rape kits:

“The backlog of untested rape kits represents the failure of the criminal justice system to take sexual assault seriously, prioritize the testing of rape kits, protect survivors, and hold offenders accountable.”

Endthebacklog.org is also clear about the why – why any rape kit would go untested – and the reasons are disheartening:

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Untested rape kits.

A lack of clear, written policies among law enforcement for the testing of rape kits.  Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, and sometimes those in law enforcement making those decisions are biased; police disbelieve victims of sexual assault more than victims of any other type of crime.

A lack of training and understanding about sexual assault and its impact on survivors and sex offenders, as well as a lack of training and understanding about the importance of forensic DNA, can impact whether a kit is submitted for testing.

A lack of resources – money and people; rape kit testing costs on average between $1,000 and $1,500, and public crime labs are underfunded, understaffed, and overwhelmed.

A lack of clear, up-to-date public crime lab policies to reflect innovations in the fields of forensic science and criminal justice.

That’s a lot of “lacks.”

Another website, RAINN.org, offered valuable insights.  RAINN stands for Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, and they reference CODIS, the above-mentioned Combined

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Untested rape kits.

DNA Index System:

“Each time a DNA profile is added to CODIS, it bolsters the strength of the database and increases the chance of catching and prosecuting perpetrators of sexual violence and other crimes.  CODIS has continued to grow to include DNA from millions of offenders and arrestees; it now includes more than 10 million DNA profiles.

“The result has been a dramatic increase in the hit rate, or the percentage of cases in which DNA found at the crime scene or in a rape kit is matched to someone in the database.”

A visit to the CODIS website is an eye-opener – it tells us that:

“CODIS’s primary metric, the ‘Investigation Aided,’ tracks the number of criminal investigations where CODIS has added value to the investigative process.  As of November 2019, CODIS has produced over 491,537 hits, assisting in more than  481,098 investigations.”

As of November 2019, in California, CODIS had 82,949 “Investigations Aided.”

Lusean Arline was in CODIS, and that aided his investigation.

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Untested rape kits.  Did the police “borrow” the shopping carts for more storage space?

Which brings us back to the 88-year-old victim in the San Diego nursing home.  I don’t know if the evidence was from a rape kit, but if it was, then it was one rape kit that did not go untested.

But what about those other 200,000 untested rape kits?

There is some encouraging news from endthebacklog.org:

“Jurisdictions that are deeply invested in bringing justice to survivors and preventing future crimes have dedicated the necessary resources toward addressing their backlogs and moving cases forward.

“New York City served as a model for the rest of the country when it committed to testing every rape kit in its backlog and aggressively following up on leads and prosecuting cases:

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“Detroit is now working to pull together the resources needed to test every kit in its backlog of more than 11,000 untested kits and to investigate the resulting leads:

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“In Cleveland, prosecutors have initiated cases against hundreds of perpetrators thanks to the testing of their nearly 4,000 kits:

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“And in Memphis, nearly 6,000 kits have already been tested as the Memphis Police Department addresses its backlog of 12,164 kits”:

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And these stories are encouraging.

But based on the image below from an ABC News story in January 2019, there is so much more to be done:

By state

Yes, there is a smattering of good news like this…

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And this…

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But that good news is so far outweighed by the bad news:

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Update:

There was good news on December 30 – though few major media outlets chose to tell it:

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But still…

We’re still seeing headlines like this:

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Much Ado About…

To call the British monarchy “staid” would not, in most cases, be an overstatement:

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In fact, any number of British royal family members would take it as a compliment.

And I say “staid” not as a criticism – the British royal family is obviously doing something right.  Queen Elizabeth II is the world’s longest-reigning monarch – 67 years – and the English monarchy has been around since 827 AD or so.

Portrait of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) of England. Undated photograph.
Victoria reigned from 1837 to 1901.

I’m also not criticizing because I’ve been fascinated by English royalty for years.  There are so many English monarchs – 61 over a period of about 1200 years – among them your Aethelbald and Aethelred up through multiple Henrys, Edwards and Georges, a couple of Marys and Elizabeths (one being Elizabeth, or QEII, the present-day monarch), and of course, the one and only Victoria.

If we neglected to mention Victoria, she would not be amused.

And I daresay she would not be amused by the big announcement in January that shunted aside all other world news:

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“Stepping back”? Queen Victoria would look down her royal nose and sneer.  “One does not step back!  One does one’s duty and smiles throughout, for God, Saint George and England!  ‘Stepping back’?  Balderdash!”

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The phrase “not amused” was recently echoed, this time in reference to Queen Elizabeth’s response to the decision of Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markel:

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It’s not as though “stepping away” from royal responsibilities is something new; QEII’s own uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated the throne in 1936.  At the time Elizabeth was 10, so she certainly remembers that.

So I think the whole thing is – as Brits are wont to say – a…

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If the Queen were to ask me – of which I’m doubtful – I’d say, “Lighten up, Liz!”

And just for laughs – of which I’m also doubtful – I’d tell QEII to check out this subsequent Harry/Meghan story:

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Yes!  When Burger King learned that Harry and Meghan wanted to become more “financially independent,” Burger King stepped up and offered them part-time jobs.

And the episode has provided us with some great laughs, like the above “Whopper Of A Job Offer” – funny!

And there are more:harryMeghanBUrgerKing cropped fixed

“Goodbye House of Windsor, hello Home of the Whopper.”

“If you’re looking for a job, we have a new crown for you.”

“You always have a job in our kingdom.”

“After so many years of living as dukes, it is time for you to start eating like kings.”

Some wit came up with a spin-off of Brexit:

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And an enterprising media outlet even tracked down a 2013 Men’s Health magazine video starring Markel and entitled, Grilling Never Looked So Hot:

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There were lots of photo spreads from the video, like this one:

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Which I think really missed the point of the video:

If Burger King hires Meghan,
she already knows her way around a burger grill:

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The burgers are at the lower-right under the Men’s Health logo.

Not that anyone was looking at the burgers.

Though it appears that Meghan and Harry don’t need to accept Burger King’s offer.

Seriously, how much more “financially independent” can you get?

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Ain’t This The Truth?

Allow me to introduce Representative Chris Collins, R-New York and Representative Duncan Hunter, R-CA .

Collins and Hunter were the first two members of Congress to endorse Trump’s presidential bid in 2016.

Here’s the trio in 2017 – Trump, Collins (center) and Hunter.

2017

Fast forward to 2019; Collins and Hunter are now convicted felons:

2017

Collins pleaded guilty to insider trading and is a convicted felon.

On Friday, January 17 Collins was sentenced to 26 months in prison and fined $200,000.  He’s had his last headline.

He begins serving his sentence March 17.

Hunter pleaded guilty to campaign finance abuse and is a convicted felon.

Hunter resigned his House seat on January 13.  The only mention in the San Diego Union-Tribune was at the bottom of page A-9.  He’s old news.

His sentencing is March 17.

Here’s my prayer for 2020:

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Why Is Bishop Malone Enjoying Retirement Time, Instead Of Serving Jail Time?

The database at Bishop-Accountability.org, which documents the clergy abuse crisis in the Catholic church, shows that abuse by priests has been reported in all 50 states.

In the state of New York there are eight Catholic Dioceses.  According to The New York Times, the Buffalo Diocese had been relatively insulated from the abuse scandals until 2018.

What happened in Buffalo in 2018?  Keep reading…

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The Buffalo diocese in red.

The Buffalo Diocese is one of the Northeast’s largest, with 600,000 Catholics.  Six hundred thousand faithful, many or most of them attending church in more than 150 parishes.

And in some of those churches were and are priests who have and probably still are sexually abusing people.

Why were those abusers in the Buffalo diocese still performing as priests?  Why are those abusers still performing as priests?

This is baffling to me because…

Hasn’t the church abuse scandal been front-page news since the Boston Globe broke the story in 2002?

Didn’t the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops – in that same year – establish this charter of procedures to deal with accused child sex abusers in the clergy, including a “zero tolerance” policy for accused abusers:

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Didn’t Pope Francis – in 2013, shortly after becoming pope – announce the creation of a Vatican committee to fight sex abuse in the church?  And publicly apologize for the Vatican’s actions, expressing regret that “personal, moral damage” had been “carried out by men of the Church”?  And also urge any priest who had enabled abuse by moving an abuser to another parish to resign?

Didn’t this same pope host a conference of bishops in Rome this past February to talk about sexual abuse, where he vowed “to combat this evil that strikes at the very heart of our mission”?

Didn’t the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meet this past June with a focus on the church sex abuse scandal?  Where they committed to bishops holding each other accountable for committing sexual abuse and covering up the crimes committed by their fellow bishops?

And didn’t this same group come up with a toll-free number to call to report abuse?

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Though, after reading that paragraph – never mind that one.

Didn’t yet another group of U.S. bishops – this time from New York including Malone – meet with the pope as recently as this past November:

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What the hell did Malone and the pope talk about?

Pope:  So, Malone, how’s it going?  Hidden any more documents lately?
Malone:  Oh, you know – all is calm, all is right.  Bright.  Whatever.

Isn’t this the church on track to spend another $4 billion settling clergy abuse lawsuits?

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Isn’t this the church that’s been promising “transparency” so often, ad nauseam comes to mind?

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Yet in the Buffalo diocese, Bishop John Malone had files about abusive priests that he was hiding from the public.

What happened in Buffalo in 2018?

In 2018, abuse survivors in the Buffalo diocese began speaking publicly, and the local news media began to investigate.

The media found that at least some of the accused priests were still in the pulpit.

Responding to pressure, in March 2018 Bishop Malone released a list of 42 priests accused of abuse over decades.

Enter the whistleblower:

Siobhan O’Connor had worked closely with Richard Malone as his executive assistant for three years.

She’d seen 117 names on a draft list in the diocese’s secret files.

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O’Connor with Bill Whitaker of “60 Minutes”; she is how I spell “HERO.”

She began photocopying documents.  Just before she quit her job in August 2018, she anonymously leaked the church documents to a reporter at Buffalo television station WKBW.

The hundreds of pages O’Connor uncovered included personnel files and memos.  They revealed that for years Bishop Malone allowed priests accused of sexual assault such as statutory rape and groping to stay on the job.

According to The New York Times,

“The leaks revealed Malone, who had led the diocese since 2012, as clinical and protective in his dealings with church lawyers about abuse, seeking to limit disclosure of church secrets to minimize their damage.”

Then in October 2018, O’Connor appeared on 60 Minutes:

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The 60 Minutes story noted,

“In Bishop Malone’s first six years in Buffalo just one priest was put on leave.  It was only after this scandal broke in March [2018] that he suspended 16 more for abuse.  None have been kicked out of the priesthood.”

In addition to O’Connor, other people were included in the 60 Minutes segment but, the program also noted, “Bishop Malone declined our requests for an interview.”

Probably because Malone was too busy running around, telling everyone he was not going to resign – he did that a lot, and loudly:

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But then he did this:

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But don’t feel sorry for Malone.

According to a 12/10/19 article in the Buffalo News, Malone, is now referred to as “Bishop Emeritus.”

“Emeritus” meaning “the former holder of an office, having retired but allowed to retain their title as an honor,” and a misnomer if I ever heard one.

The Buffalo News provided this checklist of the cushy benefits of Malone’s retirement:

  1. At least $1,900 per month in stipend and pension benefits, according to guidelines set in 2010 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
  2. Appropriate housing and board within the diocese where he last served.  The housing should include the use of a private chapel and housekeeping assistance.  If the bishop emeritus chooses to live outside of the diocese where he last served, that diocese is still obligated to pay for appropriate housing and board.
  3. Health and welfare benefits, including major medical and the full cost of medical retiredand hospital care.
  4. Home healthcare, assisted living and long-term care facilities.
  5. An office and secretarial assistance.
  6. Paid funeral and burial expenses.
  7. An insured car.
  8. Paid travel expenses for provincial and regional meetings, USCCB meetings, visits to the Vatican, installations of other bishops, and other functions that involve meeting with colleague bishops.

In the same Buffalo News article, when the writer was asked if Malone would be charged, he said in part,

“Revelations of clergy sexual abuse cover-ups similar to those now surfacing in the Buffalo Diocese have been uncovered in dozens of other dioceses around the country and rarely resulted in criminal prosecutions.

getoutofjail“In 2012, Bishop Robert W. Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph became the first Catholic prelate in the country to be convicted of protecting from prosecution a priest who had child pornography.  A judge found Finn guilty of a misdemeanor for failing to tell police that one of his priests collected lewd images of young girls on his computer.  Finn was sentenced to two years of probation.

“A Philadelphia jury in 2012 convicted Monsignor William Lynn, a supervisor in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, of covering up clergy sex abuse, but the conviction was voided on appeal in 2016.”

In other words, instead of Malone being here:

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He’ll be here…………………….or perhaps here………………………..or maybe here:

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Monaco?

California?

Costa Rica?

Or (see #2, above) Malone will be wherever he “chooses to live outside of the diocese,” since “that diocese is still obligated to pay for appropriate housing and board.”

Memo to Malone:

Wherever you decide to park your bony ass…

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Update 12/17/19:

The pope recently made a “big announcement” about abolishing a secrecy policy in clergy sexual abuse cases:

NY Times (2)

Here are some of the highlights from The New York Times article:

  1. “It’s now (see above) acceptable – but not required – to turn information about abuse claims over to the police, prosecutors and judges.”

But – why not required?  No explanation forthcoming.

  1. “In recent years, church officials in the United States and some other countries have shared with civil authorities information about some sexual abuse allegations.  But that cooperation, in theory, defied a decree adopted in 2001 that made the information a ‘pontifical secret’ – the church’s most classified knowledge.”

Not only was the church hiding information about the sexual abuse, there was actually a decree against sharing information with civil authorities from the “pontifical,” or highest, level.

  1. “The rule announced on Tuesday was also a product of the February meeting, the Vatican said.”

This is referencing the bishops conference the pope held in Rome in February, which I talked about earlier.  It took the pope 11 months to make this watered-down decision?

  1. “This is a sign of openness, transparency and the willingness to collaborate with the civil authorities,” Andrea Tornielli, the editorial director of the Vatican’s communications office, wrote in a commentary.

There’s that word “transparency” again.

  1. “The Rev. Hans Zollner, a member of the Vatican’s child protection commission, said, ‘This is pretty much revolutionary.’”

Really?  “Revolutionary”?

Let’s see if the hundreds of thousands of victims of clergy sexual abuse agree.

Victims:  Everyone who agrees, give a big cheer!

What’s that we’re hearing?

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Finally – not that there will ever be an end to this story – in contrast to the Times story that said the top-secret decree had been around since 2002, NPR noted that it had been around since 1974.

If so, that means it was in place during the time of, and clearly with the approval of, five popes:

Paul VI 1963-1978
John Paul I 1978
John Paul II 1978-2005
Benedict XVI 2005-2013
Francis 2013-Present

Here’s the headline from the NPR story, and here’s that word again:

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This story will never be over until there truly is…

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