Writings and observations

clearwatercoveh

ridenbaugh Northwest
Reading

Last week we listed the county breakdown of recipients of surplus equipment from the Department of Defense – much of which, in widespread complaint, has contributed to a militarization of police forces around the country.

Not all of that equipment, however, has such daunting or military-style uses, and a good deal of what’s included in various categories – such as armored vehicles – is more everyday than the category name might suggest. Chris Goetz, sheriff at Clearwater County in Idaho, wrote in to describe how the DOD equipment his small county has received is being used there.

After reading this week’s Idaho Weekly Briefing I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the article about the militarization of local law enforcement.

The recent events in Ferguson Missouri has put a spotlight on only one part of the program that allows local law enforcement to receive equipment from the federal government. I would like to start with the items specifically list on the NY Times map.

For Clearwater County, Idaho it shows that we received two armored vehicles and four assault rifles. So the first question would be why would Clearwater County need two armored vehicles?

The answer is that the two vehicles that they are talking about are not armored at all. They are two humvees (picture attached) with vinyl doors and a vinyl top which has a hard time keeping a hard rain out let alone bullets. We requested and received these vehicles for use during search and rescue operations. Flooding, landslides and wildfires are thing that we have to deal with at some level every year and these vehicles are a great asset during these events due to the ability to cross small land slides and cross flooded areas that normal vehicles can not handle.

The next question would be, why not use the National Guard during these emergencies? We have tried to use them in the past and it is extremely difficult and expensive to use the National Guard and usually not the best use of resources. Obviously when there is an event like Katrina in New Orleans the event is to large for any local agency to handle and outside resources are needed but when the event is small enough to be handled by local and neighboring agencies why not allow us to have the resources to take care of the event. Because these humvees are not armored the military decided that they no longer had a use for them but they have been a great benefit to us.

The next item are the assault rifles (picture attached). We have four M14, .308 rifles that when you look at the picture is not what most people think of as an assault rifle. You can debate if local law enforcement needs to get this kind of rifle or not from the military. I think the bigger question would be; If local law enforcement did not get these kinds of rifles from the military would they have them or not? I think the answer would be that they would have rifles even if they were not available from the military. For Clearwater County everyone of our deputies are issued a patrol rifle that was purchased by the County. The rifles that we got from the military have already been paid for by the tax payers and were sitting in storage.

We have received other equipment from the military but because it is not an assault rifle or amored vehicle does not get the same attention. Other items that we have received include, generators, sleeping bags, packs, sleeping mats, cold weather jackets, water pumps, trailers, atv’s and a couple pickup trucks. Once again these items are primarily used for natural disasters and search and rescue operations.

clearwatercogun

It appears to me that the story is trying to be spun to show that law enforcement in America is out of control and using weapons and tactics that should only be used on the battle field. This maybe the case in a very few isolated incidents but from my perspective is no where near the norm. When you look at Ferguson, Missouri they claim that the police were acting like the military and then they bring in the military to try and get things under control.

When we talk about some of these military types of equipment and weapons that are available to local law enforcement the questions that come to me are:

1. Would local law enforcement have the weapons or equipment if it was not available from the military?

2. How is this equipment being used and why?

3. If local law enforcement is going to have this type of equipment even if it was not available from the military doesn’t it make more sense to use the equipment that the tax payer has already bought instead of buying it again?

I believe that the best law enforcement is local and specifically the Elected Sheriff’s Office. Yes I am bias being a Sheriff but I have to answer directly to the people of the County. If I am operating in a way that the voters don’t like or acquiring equipment that they don’t think I need they have the ability to make a change. The same is not true when you use the State Police or the Military.

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Idaho Reading

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STAPILUS
 
Washington

One place to start in the discussion of a Seattle Times editorial about a particular tax is to point out that it doesn’t exist.

That is to say, the “death tax” – of which there isn’t one, at any event. What the paper was referring to, in an August 14 editorial, was the estate tax (which it correctly referred to in other locations). The trigger for the editorial was a story, run a few days earlier, about the last family farm located in Issaquah, and how it is being liquidated for sale to become (apparently) a subdivision.

“Twelve acres of open space farmed by a single family since 1883 will soon become a subdivision,” the paper said. “The McBride case ought to show us conventional thinking is wrong — the death tax really isn’t a whack on the wealthy.”

A pile of comments on the editorial argued that it was at best misleading. The comprehensive came comes from the blogger David Goldstein, who ran off a string of facts that effectively wiped out the editorial’s reasoning.

He pointed out that “Working family farms are entirely exempt from the Washington’s estate tax, while 99.4% of family farms pay no federal estate tax at all; the number of family farms liquidated to pay the federal estate tax is estimated near zero.” The estate at Issaquah is too small to qualify for estate taxation (the federal estate tax kicks in at $5.25 million, and the property was sold for $4.5 million), and its owner hasn’t even died yet. And, noted, Washington state’s estate tax law, which the paper described as “especially punitive,” actually “exempts the value of working farms entirely. All of it.”

The McBride family did, however, say taxes were an important reason they sold. But according to the Issaquah Press, the taxes that were becoming hard to bear were not estate but rather property taxes.
Goldstein: “So lacking an actual example of a family farm or small business being liquidated to pay off the estate tax, the Seattle Times had to cook one up.”

There hasn’t been a substantive response yet from the Times. Or even a bit of embarrassment over using the misleading “death tax” terminology. If we see one, we’ll include it in this space.

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Washington Washington column

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Lots of students shift from Concordia to UI (Boise Statesman)
Profiling Stallings and his House campaign (IF Post Register)
Power blackout at IF energy conference (IF Post Register)
Bergdahl exchange broke several laws (IF Post Register, Lewiston Tribune)
Rural areas get new address signs (Moscow News)

Feds considering grizzly restoration in NW (Eugene Register Guard)
Graduations start at Eugene Mission (Eugene Register Guard)
OR law enforcement got $10m in defense goods (Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Filings for KF city council (KF Herald & News)
Oregon Cabaret Theatre continues (Medford Tribune)
Feds questioning some CCOs spending (Portland Oregonian)
State supreme court offering animal protection (Portland Oregonian)

Regence and Harrison not contracting, yet (Bremerton Sun)
Fundraising for Oso nearing end (Everett Herald)
State gives convicts more access to DNA (Tacoma News Tribune, Kennewick Herald, Olympian)
Army Corps working on Toutle flooding plan (Longview News)
Congress still working on Wild Olympics bill (Port Angeles News)
Grizzlies may come back to North Cascades (Seattle Times)
Spokane urging smaller houses, lots (Spokane Spokesman)
Linear microchips may growth rapidy (Vancouver Columbian)
Supreme Court rejects state on health benefits (Vancouver Columbian)
Pot prices top another high at Vancouver (Vancouver Columbian)
Looking at the local pot stores (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take