Outrage

I actually caught myself smacking my fist into my palm while reading this story:

BARTOW — In the dead of night six years ago, a Volkswagen Passat ran off a dark country road, hit a pine tree and split in two.

The 18-year-old driver, with alcohol in his system, survived. The 16-year-old passenger, Miles White, was killed.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office concluded that it was a single-car crash, the fault of the 18-year-old drunk driver.

But a Polk sheriff’s deputy — who, it turns out, was a sexual predator of young men — had chased the boys at more than 100 mph. The St. Petersburg Times has found information that indicates the deputy’s cruiser hit the Passat before it crashed.

The death of a teenager chased by a reckless deputy was bad enough. But there was more. Two weeks earlier, according to records and witnesses, a mother had told the sheriff’s office that the same deputy had made her 15-year-old son strip naked, without reason. He had done so while on duty, using his unmarked car.

Now, with the accident, the sheriff’s office was faced with a potential legal disaster.

According to their own reports, they had been warned about a deputy preying on a teenager. But they had left him on the road, he had chased two young men, and one had been killed.

If investigators determined that the deputy caused the crash, legal experts say, a wrongful death lawsuit could have cost Polk County millions of dollars.

As it turned out, the accident investigators for the Polk sheriff’s office never investigated the deputy’s possible culpability in White’s death. They did not even interview him — though he had chased the car and was right behind it when it crashed.

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Beginnings

Here’s Justin Heckert: 7:25 a.m. He takes the long way to work. Straight down Peachtree Street, into the heart of the city where he was born. It’s the first morning of July, and from the middle lane of this famous passageway he reads the street names wistfully—Peachtree Battle, Ponce de Leon, Sweet Auburn Avenue—and stares at the Atlanta landmarks in his earliest hour as the first head football coach of the Georgia State Panthers. A gray coffee mug in the cupholder, motivational books and framed pictures piled in the backseat, AC blowing slow at 70°, both hands lightly on the wheel. He sports a blue-and-gold striped tie, buttons shining like gold tokens on his blazer. He has a stunning head of hair—graying a bit, parted straight to the right, revealing nothing but the small, white trail of his scalp line. He’s clean-shaven, with the face of a man much younger than 65, a sharp chin and nose, solid cheekbones. There’s a large band on his right ring finger—slightly faded, carved with intricate lettering, a diamond like an eye in the middle—from when he played center under Bart Starr for the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I.

Relentless

Political narrative series by Roger Simon:

… The campaign would improve as time went by, becoming more coherent, better planned and much less arrogant. But by the time it improved, it was already too late. Barack Obama had wrapped up the nomination, cleverly, skillfully, relentlessly. Always relentlessly.

Both campaigns made mistakes. But whenever Obama suffered a setback, he always had a Plan B ready, waiting and often already under way. “It was a game of chess, and we thought methodically,” said Axelrod, who would become Obama’s top strategist. “We took a pawn here and there.” In the end, it would be enough. In the end, the pawns would create a king.

Presidential campaigns have grown so vast and complex, with so many moving — and sometimes clashing — parts that few candidates feel they are actually in control. But, in the end, they are responsible.

Edge Of History

Dan Barry: PHILADELPHIA

Her guests began arriving around 8:30 Thursday night, in anticipation of the moment. They told the doorman they were here to visit Doris Smith in 21-Q, and he sent them up to her well-appointed condominium, where African artwork sat beside a nicked statuette of William Penn she received years ago as an award for something or other.

Ms. Smith, 69 and stylish, with manicured nails and short, auburn hair, offered cups of homemade rum punch and invited people to sit anywhere. Although the sliding glass door provided a panoramic view of lights shimmering like diamonds on black velvet, her guests chose instead to face the television. Their wait, nearly ended, began.

“This is the night,” said the hostess, daughter of sharecroppers.

Mr. Montgomery

Meghan Murphy: MONTGOMERY ­— There was a strange quiet in Clinton Street Cafe Wednesday. At the Walden Bank. And Eddie’s Deli.

Richie Reynolds wasn’t there.

For decades, the man known as Mr. Montgomery made his rounds every day, stopping in each restaurant, bank or shop — often two, maybe three times — to see what was happening, what the weekend would bring, swap stats on his favorite topics: sports and firefighting.

Richie walked downtown so often in his 59 years, village officials dedicated a boulevard to him. Richie greeted so many newcomers, he was named village ambassador.

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Fire On The Mountain

Series from Shauna Stephenson: It was 1988, a year seared into the memories of many: the smoke, the roar of the fire, airplanes buzzing like gnats around mushroom-shaped clouds of smoke, the nightly news headlines declaring that Yellowstone National Park – America’s collective firstborn wilderness – was burning down.

And there was nothing anyone could do.

Regular Joe

Libby Copeland: WILMINGTON, Del., Aug. 26 —

The strangest thing happened Monday morning at the train station here.

“Joe came in here with a motorcade,” says Daniel Thorpe, 44, a cab driver at the Amtrak station. A motorcade? For ol’ Joe? Everybody here is used to seeing Joe Biden by himself, on his way to and from the train — used to being able to go up and shake Joe’s hand, talk about the grandkids.

Anyway, on Monday there he was. Big photo-op and a huge crush of press and Secret Service all around. Joe won’t be taking the 7:35 a.m. Acela to Washington for a good long while, so he wanted to drop in and say goodbye.

For Worse

Hank Stuever: The end of the world is here: Lizardbreath has married Blandthony. Grandpa Jim is on his deathbed, with pitiable second wife Iris at his side. Our protagonist, Elly Patterson, is a Kleenex-clutching mess, as ever. She can’t believe how the years have gone by a wrinkle at a time, blah blah blah, and worse, she can’t shut up about it.

Somebody says something disgustingly pithy every panel now. You can feel the comic-strip family saga known as “For Better or for Worse” (known to some as “FBOFW,” and to others simply as “Foob”) coming to a close, in a cataract haze of soft focus.

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Like A Butterfly

Michael Brick: Her tennis dress was red and her shoes were red and the space in between was all bulging muscle. Li Na used it to power serves conjured solely from forward motion. Her left toe and fingertips traced a line perpendicular to the earth, giving her the appearance of an incarnate flagpole until she lunged in to deliver the ball over the net at close to 100 miles an hour.