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September 10, 2013 at 12:46 PM
A Skagit County jury thankfully pushed past the minutae of child-rearing techniques and freedom of religion and found Sedro-Wooley-area couple Larry and Carri Williams guilty of their adopted Ethiopian daughter’s death.
No one knows if the couple’s abusive treatment of two children they adopted from Ethiopia was influenced by a child-rearing book they had in their home, To Train up a Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl. Cheered for its Bible-based parenting techniques and reviled for recommending harsh physical discipline for kids, the book has sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Since the evangelical guidebook’s original publication in 1994, child-abuse cases have cited it as possibly spurring parents’ behavior, but as a Slate article notes, formal action has never been taken against the authors.
I do not agree with the book’s parenting techniques. But it should also be made clear that the book does not advocate the kind of physical punishment endured by Hana. From a Seattle Times news story:
“Witnesses throughout the trial described the adopted children being starved, beaten and tortured. Hana spent her final months sleeping in a locked closet, showering outside with a hose, being forced to use a portable toilet behind a barn, being hit as many as 40 times a day and at times being barred from speaking to anyone.”
This New York Times story features scores of families who use the book’s techniques without crossing the legal line into abuse. The authors are clear that their book should not be used by out-of-control or overburdened parents. Ultimate responsibility for Hana’s death resides solely on her adoptive parents. The jury agreed.
Carri Williams was convicted of homicide by abuse in Hana Williams’ death. The jury could not agree on whether her husband was equally culpable and the judge declared a mistrial for that charge. Both were convicted of first-degree manslaughter in Hana’s death and first-degree assault of a child for abusing a younger boy, Immanuel, who they adopted from Ethiopia at the same time as Hana. The local Ethiopian community had taken a special interest in the case.
Debate over the book’s connection to child abuse will continue. Justice was served for Hana Williams’ death.
May 9, 2013 at 6:15 AM
A challenge to the private ferry monopoly on Lake Chelan, James Courtney v. Jeffrey Goltz, was heard Monday, May 6, in federal appeals court in Seattle. Courtney, whose family owns the Stehekin Valley Ranch, has been trying to start a ferry service between Chelan and Stehekin since the late 1990s, and the state won’t let him.
Courtney is represented by the Institute for Justice,a public-interest law firm that promotes free markets. Its attorney, Michael Bindas, argued that the state has to show a public necessity in order to create a private monopoly, and that the state has shown no such necessity at Lake Chelan.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission was represented by Fronda Woods of the Attorney General’s office. She argued that the state has the clear power to limit service to one carrier.
And it has done so. The history is outlined in the WUTC’s report of November 2010. Originally, anyone could ferry customers on the lake. The state imposed rate and safety regulation in 1911. By 1914, there were four ferry companies, only one of them operating in winter. In the 1920s, the state advanced the argument that ferry service on Lake Chelan was a natural monopoly. In exchange for giving one company an exclusive franchise, that company would agree to offer safe and reliable service year-round. The state granted the exclusive franchise in 1927, with year-round service.
Competitors petitioned the state to be allowed into the market in 1953, 1972 and 1976. In each case the existing company protested, the state looked at the circumstances and denied the petitions. In 1997, Courtney petitioned and was denied, on the grounds that there was “lack of evidence of any unmet need for service.”
In an open market, “unmet need” is not a standard a new entrant has to meet. You get your boat, safety equipment, insurance, etc., hire employees and give it a shot. In a normal business situation you don’t have to prove to the government that the existing company isn’t meeting the demand. At Lake Chelan a newcomer is required to show that. The question is whether this is so unreasonable it violates the newcomer’s rights.
The Institute for Justice argues that it does. It picked up the case and brought it to federal court in Spokane in 2012, with an unusual argument: that under an 1872 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Slaughterhouse Cases, Americans have a general right to use navigable waters. The Spokane judge dismissed the case, as covered in this news story.
Monday’s case was the appeal. I listened to the oral argument, which is available on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals web page. Of the three judges, Michael Daly Hawkins, Sidney Thomas and Jacqueline Nguyen, Hawkins was the most sympathetic. He seemed offended by a system in which a company with a monopoly certificate could block an applicant, and in which the applicant “got danced around by the licensing authority.”
Nguyen was the least receptive to Bindas’s arguments. “Licensing does not preclude all uses of these waters,” she said, meaning that Courtney could use his boat on the lake for other things.
Thomas, at one point, seemed worried that a constitutional ruling in favor of applicant would set a precedent for other ferries.
The current service, owned by Lake Chelan Recreation Inc., is hardly a big one. In 2008, the company reported revenue of $1.6 million, fuel charges of $400,000 and a small profit. In several previous years there were small losses.
The case, however, did get the attention of Washington Post columnist George Will. From small cases, large precedents may grow.
March 7, 2013 at 6:00 AM
State Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, says the issue is unlikely to get anywhere this year, but he hopes a public discussion — and “the transformational impact of DNA testing” — will lead to passage in the future. His bill proposes replacing the death penalty with life in prison without parole. Proponents say doing so would save taxpayers tens of millions in court fees. Washington currently has eight inmates on death row and dozens of other capital punishment cases moving through the system.
Watch the fascinating hearing below, which opens with testimony from staff and both Carlyle and Republican state Rep. Maureen Walsh of Walla Walla. Walsh read a statement from former GOP Gov. Dan Evans, who supports repeal because “the chance for error is too great; the cost too high.” (I’ve posted his full remarks after the jump in this post.) The panel also heard from the family members of two murder victims who oppose the death penalty.
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