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Archive for January 11th, 2011

Board Rules that Fired U.S. Park Police Chief Can Be Reinstated and Get 6 Years of Back Pay

Teresa Chambers

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewirecom

WASHINGTON — Patience and persistence has paid off for Teresa Chambers, who was fired as U.S. Park Police chief in 2004 in what turned into a highly controversial situation in the nation’s capital.

The Merit Systems Protection Board has ruled that she can have her job back, plus more than six years of back pay. It concluded that the evidence against her was weak, and that the Interior Department retaliated against her,  according to the ruling first reported by WTOP radio Tuesday.

WTOP reported that she was fired for publicly commenting to the media about budget problems and complaining about a staff shortage that was forcing her to cut back on patrols.

WTOP said that in 2004 the Park Service’s deputy director, Don Murphy, said Chambers’ broke the rules by commenting publicly about budget discussions and lobbying.

“In sum, we find that the agency’s evidence in support of its actions was not strong at the time it took the actions, the record demonstrates that the acting officials had a significant motive to retaliate against the appellant, and the agency did not show that it took similar actions against similarly-situated non-whistleblowers,” the merit board wrote in its ruling.

The Washington Post reported that her attorney, Paula Dinerstein, called the decision “a wonderful ruling, not only for Chief Chambers but for thousands who believe that honesty is part of public service.”

The Post reported that the National Park Service, which oversees the Park Police, was reviewing the ruling.

To Read more click here.

READ RULING BY THE MERIT SYSTEMS PROTECTION BOARD

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Mass. Man 2nd in Nation to Get Convicted of Pointing Laser at Aircraft

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A Massachusetts man, who became the second person in the country convicted of pointing a laser at an aircraft, was sentenced Monday in Boston federal court to three years in prison.

Gerard Sasso, 52, of Medford, Mass., was convicted of shining a powerful green laser beam into a State Police helicopter on Dec. 8, 2007 that was escorting a liquid gas tanker through Boston Harbor, authorities said. He then lied to law enforcement when questioned about it.

The incident happened around 9:15 p.m., the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. The laser was pointed in the cockpit, which then was  filled with a sparkling green light.

The pilots then began flying an “S” shaped pattern toward the beam to identify its source, authorities said. Eventually, pilots were able to determine the beam was likely coming from the window of Sasso’s third floor apartment on the Medford/Somerville line, authorities said.

Officers responded to Sasso’s apartment and interviewed him, and he lied about pointing the laser, authorities said.

But officers noticed a laser pointer on his bedside table and he subsequently admitted he did it. Police recovered 11 lasers fro his apartment, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

“This sentence should send a strong message that interfering with an aircraft in any way will result in aggressive prosecution and stiff sentences,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “Such actions endanger lives and disrupt air travel, and will not be tolerated.”

Ex-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay Gets 3 Years in Prison; Remains Free On $10,000 Bond

Ex-Rep. Tom DeLay

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The once powerful U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who had been under FBI investigation in  connection with the Jack Abramoff scandal,  but was never charged,  was sentenced  in state court Monday in Austin, Tex., to three years in prison for a scheme in which he illegally helped funnel corporate contributions to Republican Texas legislative candidates, the Associated Press reported.

AP reported that DeLay remained defiant to the end, denying wrongdoing. He was jailed for three hours before he posted a $10,000 bond. He will remain free pending an appeal that could potentially take years.

“Everything I did was covered by accountants and lawyers telling me what I had to do to stay within the law,” the ex-House majority leader said in court. “I can’t be remorseful for something I don’t think I did.”

AP reported that Senior Judge Pat Priest disagreed with DeLay, saying those who write laws should be bound by them.

DeLay had been convicted in November of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money launder for using a political action committee to illegally send corporate donations to Texas House candidates in 2002, AP reported.

The FBI and Justice Department had investigated DeLay in connection with the Jack Abramoff scandal. DeLay was never charged, but two of his political aides pleaded guilty in the case.

Column: Guns and Responsibility

Eugene Robinson

By Eugene Robinson
Washington Post

WASHINGTON — We may not be sure that the bloodbath in Tucson had anything to do with politics, but we know it had everything to do with our nation’s insane refusal to impose reasonable controls on guns.

Specifically, the rampage had everything to do with a 9mm semiautomatic Glock pistol – a sleek, efficient killing machine that our lax gun laws allowed an unstable young man to purchase, carry anywhere and ultimately use to shoot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head. The weapon also was used to shoot 19 bystanders, killing six of them, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl.

The accused gunman, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, appears to be deranged. But this fact does not automatically absolve the politicians, partisan activists and professional loudmouths who spew apocalyptic anti-government rhetoric full of violent imagery.

To read more click here.