Police Departments Throughout The Country Are Receiving Closer Scrutiny

Because of all of the brouhaha that is continuing to swirl around policing of the citizenry around the country, something that recently happened that involves the Denver Police Department caught my attention.  What happened was that Denver Police Chief Robert White called for his police officers to stand down when protesters defaced the Denver Police Departments Fallen Officer Memorial in front of the main police building located at 1331 Cherokee Street in Downtown Denver.

Although those responsible were later arrested and charged with a felony, this did not set well with many of these police officers and they made it known by calling for Chief White’s resignation.  According to KUSA in Denver, the head of the police union spoke about the incident: “We will no longer follow him as we move forward” said Nick Rogers, president of the Police Protective Association.  “He is not our chief.”

If these words sound eerily familiar, it may be because the head of the police union in New York made a similar statement about Mayor Bill de Blasio when NYPD police officers were offended by a decision that he made.  Ultimately, some of them turned their backs on him when he appeared at public events.  This kind of behavior is counterproductive to solving problems and must stop.

Issues with the police and how they deal with the citizenry is not just an issue in Denver, Colorado but it is a national issue.  With the Erick Garner situation that occurred in New York and the Michael Brown situation that occurred in Missouri along with the problems that followed as a result of how those situations were handled, it is no wonder that the police chief in Denver would be extra sensitive when dealing with a potentially volatile situation.

The Denver Police Department has had problems in the past with lawsuits and claims of police brutality and it continues to have them now so Chief White likely did not want to call any unwanted attention to his Department.

And now, in light of articles in the Guardian covering allegations of the existence of a ‘black site’ run by the Chicago Police Department, it appears that Police Chief White might have been wise in his cautious approach and trying to deescalate and control the situation and prevent it from getting out of hand.  In this alleged ‘black site’ American citizens are allegedly virtually kidnapped, held prisoner and interrogated by Chicago police while being deprived of their constitutional rights before being formally taken into custody and getting booked.  If this proves to be true, there is something very scary and terribly wrong with this picture.

This is America and to deprive citizens of their Constitutional rights is not who we are.  While one of the unions representing the largest police department in the country has cried foul and accused those of being police haters who say that police too often overstep their bounds and need to be subject to checks and balances like everyone else, visible instances of police brutality continue to occur.  What is allegedly happening in Chicago would be off the chart and can only be made worse if management is lying when they deny it.

All police departments have been under the microscope lately as a result of the Erick Garner and Michael Brown cases and others like them. Likely as a result of public pressure brought about by protesters, both James Comey – the head of the FBI, and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton recently spoke out on the problem that exists between the police and people of color.  Both said some things that were critical of the police that went far beyond anything that either Attorney General Erick Holder or Mayor Bill de Blasio had said and were praised for it.  When Attorney General Holder and Mayor de Blasio said those things, they were severely criticized.

It is my opinion that Attorney General Holder was criticized because he is Black and Mayor de Blasio was criticized because he is married to a Black woman and they have a biracial son.  The fact is that, although it should not, color does matter.  But in this case – if there is such a thing, it matters for what might prove to be a good reason.

If having a powerful White person echo the words of a powerful Black person, or someone who is considered to be too closely tied to a Black person, is what it takes to get opposing sides to listen then sit down and have a reasonable conversation to solve a problem that has to be solved then I am all for it.

I am glad that FBI Director Comey and Commissioner Bratton had the courage to step forward and say what they said.  I do not agree with Commissioner Bratton’s assessment that the problem in the NYPD is not systemic and that police officers in the Department have been unfairly accused of being overzealous but those are the kind of things that can be discussed and fixed.

I do not think that Commissioner Bratton’s determination should be a non-starter; however, I do believe that the perspective of those on each side of this issue needs to be validated by the opposing side in order to have a meaningful conversation with the potential of resulting in a successful conclusion.

During these discussions, it is okay for participants to be angry and fight (verbally) but both sides must fight fair just like people in a successful marriage fight fair (perhaps a poor example and one that a lot of you won’t like).  But if there is to be any chance of success, I reiterate, participants have to fight fair!  This is one of those situations where all of us must shed our blinders – whether they are color, ethnicity, religious belief, or any other prejudice that we may have and; in the words of Commissioner Bratton, “see each other.”

I have no doubt that all police officers feel bound to some degree by the so called blue code, code of blue or whatever it is called but I also have no doubt that they struggle with the black and white, or people of color and white, issue just like the rest of America does.  I don’t profess to know how they can get beyond this situation but they must get beyond it.

Because of the nature of police officers’ job, they naturally form a close bond within their ranks and are at all times wary and vigilant of those outside of that bond.  They do not allow themselves to become too trusting of anyone other than a fellow police officer.

They must always protect themselves because when they must enforce the law, by doing so, they can provoke anger and unacceptable behavior.  There may be times when at a moment’s notice, they will have to take those people who they are laughing and interacting with into custody and this could create resistance from the person they are arresting and sometimes anger other members of that community.  Those of us who are not police officers need to accept those parameters even if we find them hard to understand.

On the other hand, good police officers must stop using the blue code to protect bad ones regardless of what it is that those bad police officers have done.  In addition, the culture of police management from the very top-level manager to the lowest level supervisor must be revisited and revamped in order to rid management of all of those who condone and perpetuate any type of behavior that is outside the law.

The ideal situation would be for the police and members of the communities that they serve and protect to somehow foster a mutual respect for each other and conduct themselves accordingly.  The police should be able to do their job with the respect and support of those communities as long as they operate within the parameters of the law, treat all community members with dignity and respect, and enforce the law without bias.  Unfortunately, that is not our current situation.

I once had the occasion to speak to a young Black man who had just had an encounter with the police in which he felt that he was treated with disrespect and loathing for no apparent reason.  He said that he was treated that way simply because he is Black.  And then after a short pause he added angrily, the police are just a gang with badges!

My encounter with that young man was a long time ago but his comment that “the police are just a gang with badges” stayed with me.  It is important to me that our young Black men and other people of color do not see police in that light.  But with all of the highly publicized negative things that are happening now with regard to the interaction between the police and people of color, it is not hard to understand why others like him might feel the same way.

The White experience and the Black experience with the police is not the same and America needs to fix that.  The only way that this can be done is for all of us to first admit that this problem exists.  Once we do that then the opposing sides can begin a conversation that can lead to a solution.  I hope that as a result of Director Comey and Commissioner Bratton acknowledging that there is a problem and speaking out about it, that is what will happen.

Eulus Dennis

The Republi-can Shutdown The Government Party is eager to party hardy

When it comes to shutting down the government the Republican Party just can’t seem to get enough of it.  It is as if they somehow got caught up in the lyrics of that old song by the Staple Singers from back in the 1970s, ‘Let’s Do It Again’, and cannot break free.

“Sometimes the rain, groovin’ when I hear the sound; like you [government shutdown] and me, baby gettin’ down with the sounds around.  Oh, the smell of the mornin’ flower as we pass away the hour; I wanna do it again, do it again, do it, do it…” the lyrics say.

Obviously the Staple Singers were not referring to a government shutdown but to many of those who were young back in the 1970s, they could not help but to move  and swing and sway to the melodious sounds of this popular Motown song.  Too many Republicans seem to have this same problem when it comes to a government shutdown.  It matters not whether it is a partial or full shutdown; what matters is that it is a shutdown.  They can’t seem to help themselves.  And right now, it appears that once again they are saying, ‘let’s do it again!’

Operation Rubiks Cube 002

Operation Rubik’s Cube: watch the video then buy the book.

Here we are only a few days away from having funding for the Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S.) lapse and Republicans are continuing full speed ahead in allowing it to happen.  Many of them believe that if this does happen, the blame will fall squarely on the shoulders of the Democrats.

It does not matter that Democrats have refused to support the bill that would provide funding to the D.H.S. because it contains language placed into it by Republicans that would, in effect, reverse President Obama’s Executive Order (EO) on immigration.  Although this EO would only allow immigrants who meet special criteria to remain in this country and expire as soon as congress passes a comprehensive immigration law, Republicans find it unacceptable.

What about all of those employees who will not be paid, some of whom by law will have to work without pay, when these funds run out?  Is congress concerned about them or whether they will be able to support themselves and their families until a new funding bill is passed?  Maybe they should pass a law that says that anytime there is a partial or full government shutdown congress members will not be paid until the shutdown is over.  I’d bet that there would be a lot fewer government shutdowns then.

Since President Obama was elected, it seems that many of our elected officials have lost all sense of direction.  It seems that they no longer have the ability to empathize with those who are without a voice and are struggling to survive.  They might not have had a lot of sympathy for those constituents before President Obama was elected and even when they did, it might not have been overt; but now they seem to be so focused on projecting an anti-Obama visual of themselves that they have completely forgotten about anyone who is not rich and powerful.

My message to these politicians now is that they should stop playing politics and pandering and do their job, which is governance.  Stop taking away money from hard-working Americans who are struggling to make an honest living and survive while they continue to pay themselves for doing virtually nothing (the last few congresses are likely among the least productive in American history) and govern!  It can’t be any harder for them to do that than it has been for the Average American to survive over the past six years while they conduct their partisan fights!

Come the next election, my message and yours should be that we are tired of their antics and will no longer tolerate their unreasonable behavior by reflecting those feelings in our vote.  Politicians will be politicians but we all know that they can do better and they too know that they can do better.  But because they are politicians, they will not do better unless America demands it of them.  We must do that!

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent and no matter how many roadblocks may be placed in your path make sure that you surmount them, get registered and vote; and not just in presidential elections.  To vote is our responsibility as Americans and we should meet it.  And after that, “Let’s Do It Again.”

Eulus Dennis

Republicans Are At It Again

It seems that Republicans just can’t get enough of bashing President Obama.  Twenty sixteen may still be a ways off but Republicans who are considering running for president, and some who are definitely not running, are focused like a laser beam on this president.

There’s the Fox News affiliate in San Diego that while reporting news on a rape suspect, showed a picture of President Obama over the shoulder of the reporter instead of that of the person they were reporting on.  The affiliate, San Diego’s Fox 5 News, said that this was a mistake and later apologized.  Was it a mistake?  Or were they simply trying to fire up the base?  Good questions but no definitive answers.  Each person is left to draw their own conclusions.

Then there is a tweet referencing the president that was sent out by Dinesh D’Souza – a political commentator and author – that said, “You can take the boy out of the ghetto…”  Mr. D’Souza is a conservative who is affiliated with conservative organizations like the American Enterprise institute and the Heritage Foundation.  It is no secret that the Heritage Foundation has spent significant time and resources fighting against a number of President Obama’s policies.

There is also former mayor Giuliani who – while at a dinner held in support of Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, questioned whether the president loves America.  According to an article in Politico by Darren Samuelsohn the former mayor said; “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America.  He doesn’t love you.  And he doesn’t love me.  He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

I will not venture to say that I know exactly what is being implied in former mayor Giuliani’s statement but I do know that it smacks of things that were brought up in the past when some elected officials were saying that President Obama was not born in this country and therefore is not a legitimate president.  This is not the first controversial statement the former mayor has made; instead, it is only among the more recent ones.  Some of his most recent statements have been very divisive.

Governor Walker was present when ex-mayor Giuliani said that he does not believe that President Obama loves America but he remained silent.  Even when he was asked about it later while on Fox News, he chose not to distance himself from it.  As has happened in the past, too many Republicans are slow to condemn this kind of talk.  At this point, there is none that I am aware of who have come forward and said that this is unacceptable.

It is reasonable to assume that these candidates and potential candidates who say that they want to lead America want to be the president of all Americans and lead all Americans.  They don’t want to be the president of just the extreme right wing, right wing, or Republicans and lead them.  They do not want to be the president of just the big money constituents and White people and lead them.  They want to be the president of Democrats, Republicans and Independents: they want to be the president of rich people and poor people; White people, Black people, Latinos, Asians and Native Americans and lead all of us.

It is past time for the political pandering to stop!  For ex-mayor Giuliani to publicly say that he does not believe that President Obama loves America was the wrong thing to do and he should apologize.  For Governor Walker to remain silent after the ex-mayor said this was the wrong thing to do and he must decide whether he will continue to play politics or exemplify the qualities of a true leader by distancing himself from this kind of rhetoric.

There are too many problems that America is faced with for us to continue down this same old worn-out road.  The situation in the Middle East is a snarled mess and our elected officials are spending their time clashing with one another about whether or not America should refer to ISIS as simply terrorist or Islamic terrorist?

Most Americans who follow politics closely would probably much rather see congress and the administration working together to come up with a strategy as to how we can defeat ISIS than witness what they are doing now.  The White House and some in congress agree that we can’t kill our way to victory in this battle.  There are too many factions with different interests that are all but impossibly congruent to be successfully brought together to form a whole that will last.  Yet we must do exactly that if world interest – including our own, is to be served.

But in order to make the virtually impossible possible and implement a workable plan, our leaders will have to spend their time more productively.  They must, at least, suspend the political pandering and arguing among themselves long enough to come up with a solution to this ISIS problem that is plaguing America and the world.

Eulus Dennis

Congress Struggling to Get Untracked

Senator Mitch McConnell has not been real visible or had much to say about actual governance since he became Senate Majority Leader.  Someone from the press should get a drink with him so that they could chat about all of the things that are going right and the few things that are going wrong since Republicans took control of congress: or maybe I should say all of the things that are going wrong and the few things that are going right.

Either way, maybe the conversation could start with President Obama’s “Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell?” joke.  That should break the ice.  After all, Senator McConnell didn’t just take it lying down; he struck back at the president with his own empty chair tweet, which showed him in a bar having a beer and a conversation with an empty chair with a glass of red wine on the bar in front of it.

These two men appear to be polar opposites but in order to effectively govern, they – along with Speaker Boehner, are going to have to be amenable to coming together and having reasonable, constructive and meaningful conversation if America is to move forward.  Apparently, no one has needed to get a drink with the Speaker to prod him to talk; he has had plenty to say.

Since Republicans took control of congress he has already talked about how the president does not understand that the House circumvented the Administration in inviting Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joint session of congress in order to strengthen the president’s hand in his negotiations with Iran.  Further, according to an article in U.S. News & World Report, when asked about funding for the Department of Homeland Security he said “The House did its job…”  “Why don’t you go ask the Senate Democrats when they’re going to get off their ass and do something other than to vote no?”  And an article in The New York Times by Michael D. Shear and Ashley Parker said that on ‘Fox News Sunday’ Speaker Boehner “signaled that he was willing to let funding for [Department of Homeland Security] lapse – allowing for a shutdown – if the Senate was unable to pass the House’s bill.”

Indeed Speaker Boehner has certainly had plenty to say since Republicans took control of congress but his leadership from the time that he became Speaker has been weak and it still appears to be weak now.  Under his leadership the house has voted to repeal Obamacare more than 50 times, members – including him – continue to be condescending toward the president and many in congress continue to question his loyalty to America.

Under Speaker Boehner’s leadership Republicans continue to retrace their tracks and cover the same old ground again and again and again…  They seem to be unable to get untracked so that they can cover new ground; ground that badly needs to be covered and cries out for congress’ attention.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Republicans having a difference of opinion with the president as to how the country should be run and loathing how he is conducting its affairs.  But to continuously make history by disrespecting him, let alone the office, by questioning his loyalty and right to run the country should be unacceptable to all Americans; it goes beyond the pale.

The question still remains as to who is actually running the House.  It is obvious that Speaker Boehner holds the gavel but things are somewhat opaque when it comes to who is in control.  Is it the Tea Party caucus or is it Speaker Boehner?

The speaker may still be tethered to establishment Republicans but that also is hard to decipher with the way that things are going.  Right now though, it appears that he is somewhat separated from the group and flailing in the wind like a lone flag which is precariously close to being ripped from its mooring, carried away and landing wherever the wind drops it.

If things continue to go the way that they are going now it would not surprise me if the tether line got cut.  As to who would be the cutter – Speaker Boehner or establishment Republicans, I don’t know.  But I do know who the cuttee (to coin a word) would be: Speaker Boehner!

Eulus Dennis

Too Above The Law To Fit Under It?

People were really angry when after the country was almost plunged into ruin by the financial industry and bailed out by taxpayers that no one went to jail.  We heard a lot from politicians about ‘too big to fail’ and after their rescue we heard some bankers crow about how they paid back all of the money that the government provided in order to bail them out.  After that, most of the banks tightened their grip on their money and all but refused to loan any to the Americans who so badly needed it.

Although there was a lot of talk about getting to the bottom of what brought about this near disaster and holding those responsible accountable, nothing ever really happened to anyone of consequence.  Those who were responsible probably knew all along that nothing would happen to them though some feigned some outward fear of punishment in order to placate us average Americans; the little people.

After all, everyone knows that all politicians who expect to be successful need the support of ‘big money’ to finance their expensive election campaigns.  And had bankers and Wall Street not even bothered to feign fear after authoring such a terrible deed surly the little people would have believed that the government was in cahoots with them all along.  Of course, what the average American thought about this unfortunate incident didn’t really matter but as with all politicians and political situations, visuals are important.

Whether or not you agree with the saying that ‘time heals all wounds’ people do tend to forget and those things that at one time may have made their blood boil become distant memories and much less disconcerting.  Although we may think about how bankers and Wall Street executives walked away from something that average Americans would have spent many years incarcerated for, we probably quickly dismiss the thought and move on with our lives.

But there is a problem bubbling just beneath the surface in the banking industry right now that could embroil a lot of rich and powerful people in a quagmire that will be hard to escape.  Again, even if they don’t escape it, the most they will likely suffer is a slap on the wrist, momentary embarrassment and a fine that to them would amount to the equivalent of the average American leaving a two dollar tip.

This problem first surfaced in 2010 and involves the HSBC.  Although the resolution was somewhat controversial, supposedly it was handled then.  However; according to an article in The Guardian by Paul Lewis, it has resurfaced because there is concern by some that the stipulations in that agreement are not being taken seriously.  This time though I doubt that we will hear the mantra ‘too big to fail’; only because it doesn’t fit.

We probably won’t hear anything like that because if we did, the most appropriate catch phrase would be ‘too above the law to fit under it.’  When the Department of Justice (DOJ) addressed and supposedly began to mitigate this problem, which first appeared in 2010, with the intension to ultimately totally correct it, the DOJ assigned an independent monitor as overseer.

In May of 2014 while continuing to work the HSBC problem the DOJ forced a company called Credit Suisse to pay a $2.6 bn. fine for its part as an organization suspected of involvement in tax evasion.  According to the article in ‘The Guardian’, at that time, Attorney General Holder said; “This case shows that no financial institution, no matter its size or global reach, is above the law.  Credit Suisse conspired to help US citizens hide assets in offshore accounts in order to evade paying taxes.  When a bank engages in misconduct this brazen, it should expect that the Justice Department will pursue criminal prosecution to the fullest extent possible, as has happened here.”

Unfortunately for him and the many others who crafted the HSBC solution and thought that their work was complete, it appears that much more still remains to be done.  And as to those customers that used HSBC for illegal purposes who could also find themselves trapped in this web of attempted deception in their effort to hide their personal assets, their problems may have just begun.

In showcasing the DOJ’s progress and accomplishment regarding the HSBC, the attorney general said that “this case shows that no financial institution… is above the law.”  The key operative words here are ‘financial institution.’  What about the high-level, powerful individuals who were involved in this tax evasion scheme; what will happen to them?

I have said before that there are some problems that arise whose complexities defy our ability to navigate them so we must leave it to our elected officials to address them and trust that they will do so in the best interest of America and our overall best interest.  Whether we cannot navigate these complex issues because there is certain information that politicians are privy to, which we are not or we simply don’t have the mental acumen is not the point.

The point is that if tossing all of these high-level crooks into jail and throwing away the key would put the American economy and possibly even the world economy into a tailspin which could only result in disaster, I would say don’t do it.  I think that most Americans would say the same thing.

Those billionaires and millionaires who participate in these tax evasion schemes know too that most sensible people will choose the common good and survival of America over their anger and abhorrence of the arrogance and greed of far too many of the rich.  It seems that the best – and maybe only – way to really get the attention of the rich is through their money.

So what the government needs to do to hold the rich accountable while at the same time making them think twice before they repeat their despicable acts while average Americans carry more than their fair share of the load is to charge them a fine that would to them amount to more than what the average American would leave as a tip.  They need to really make them feel it: make them hurt!  Most of the rich probably fear losing their money more than they do going to jail anyway.  Taking it from them in a significant (emphasis on significant) amount would be like raining fire down on them.

Governments from the federal level all the way down to the local level have no problem with going after people who are not rich and powerful; especially when it comes to taxes.  It is not unheard of for them to spend exponentially larger sums to collect what, in their overall budget, amounts to a pittance compared to what they are trying to collect.

Most people know that until we have a perfect world and America forms a perfect union – whether we like it or not, we are going to have those who, at all levels, are privileged and pampered.  Although Americans might realize and accept that government can’t throw these high-level crooks in jail, they also know that it could do a lot more than it currently does to make them truly feel the pain.  The fact that it has not yet done this is what really has citizens throughout the country suspicious about our government and angry with our politicians.

Bring the pain!  Government doesn’t seem to mind doing this to the average American, why not do it to the rich and powerful as well.

Eulus Dennis

Melding Cops And Communities

Once upon a time in a beautiful place called America police and communities were (almost) as one and (almost) everyone in these communities lived in harmony with them. (Most) Police lived in the communities that they served, walked beats and knew (most of) the people that they protected and served.  And (most of) the people of this beautiful land with ‘spacious skies’, ‘amber waves of grain’ and majestic purple mountains that towered above ‘the fruited plain’, cared for and highly respected the police.

This land was a land of hard-working immigrants who believed that anyone who worked hard and was determined could achieve ‘The American Dream’ for himself and his family.  They said, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddle masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teaming shore.  Send these the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

But as the years slowly drifted by in this dreamland that frequently stirred misty dreams of utopia, things changed and some of the police began to feel that they were not there to serve and protect the people in these communities by being good stewards of the law and enforcing it, instead, they began to feel that they were the law and, therefore, above it.  Thus began the downward spiral of this majestic land and the people began to complain and rebel.  Today…

Many people are completely fed up with the way that our police are treating the citizenry.  Police departments all around the country are experiencing this problem.  A perfect example of it is exemplified by the ongoing problem in the New York City Police Department (NYPD).  The quickest way for me to share with you what has taken place with the NYPD lately and is continuing to unfold is to share the content of the following article that I posted previously:

NYPD Unions Have Gone Too Far

All of New York and citizens throughout the United States feel the pain that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) feels for its two fallen police officers.  Everyone should be allowed to express those feelings, including Mayor Bill de Blasio.  For NYPD officers to turn their backs on mayor de Blasio at the urging of NYPD unions is shameful.  Not only is it shameful but it seems to me to, at least, border on insubordination.

The killing of these two innocent police officers was committed by someone who apparently had some mental problems.  Under these circumstances, even if the killer did evoke the names of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, it is ludicrous for anyone to lay the blame for what he did at the feet of peaceful protesters who are protesting against police brutality and unequal justice under the law.

For the NYPD unions to blame protesters and use it as an excuse to encourage NYPD police officers to turn their backs on the mayor does not make sense.  This is not the kind of leadership that those with such a grave responsibility as police officers should have.  They should expect more from their leaders.  New York is not a police state and neither is any other state in America.

Citizens have the right to peacefully protest and mayor de Blasio has a right to be a father and counsel his son as he deems necessary.  His situation with his son is unique because it is on the cusp of black and white.  He must recognize and effectively navigate both sides of this black and white dilemma; literally.  Probably all black parents have had the conversation with their children, especially if they are boys, about how they should conduct themselves with police officers.  I know that I had that conversation with my children.

Even if the NYPD unions feel that Mayor de Blasio does not support them and disagree with what he said about counseling his son to be careful in how he conducts himself if confronted by a police officer, they are still completely out of line to encourage NYPD police officers to turn their backs on the mayor out of disrespect for him because of this.  Even if they did not encourage officers to turn their backs on the mayor, as soon as union leaders became aware that officers had done this, they should have discouraged them from continuing to do it.

Whether this statement was a gaffe by the mayor or was something that he meant to say, he is still the mayor of New York and should be respected as such.  What if every angry citizen turned their backs on police and the heads of police departments every time an unarmed innocent citizen was killed whether accidentally or on purpose?  What kind of a society would we live in?

Mayor de Blasio may not be the direct manager of these NYPD officers who turned their backs on him or of the officers who head these unions but he is no doubt at the top of the NYPD organization chart.  What would happen if any of you reading this article treated your boss, let alone the Chief Executive Officer, the way that these NYPD officers treated the mayor?

The NYPD union leaders need to be more responsible and look at the big picture rather than allowing their anger and frustration to dictate their actions.  And if every manager from the chief of police down to the lowest level supervisor hasn’t addressed this issue with their subordinates and let them know that they do not condone such behavior, now is the time to do so.

That is the full content of my previously posted article.  One would think that with all that has happened thus far that the powers that be would put their heads together and try to find a solution.  They are trying.  But you might be surprised to learn what police commissioner Bill Bratton and Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, suggested.  They suggested that resisting arrest be made a felony charge rather than have it remain the misdemeanor charge that it is now.

According to an article in the atlantablackstar.com, when commissioner Bratton was asked about such a change he said that it is an idea that he enthusiastically supports.  And Patrick Lynch’s thoughts; according to this same article he said “We believe this change in law is necessary to deter the type of conduct we saw during last month’s demonstrations.”  He was referring to the protesters who had protested and are continuing to protest excessive force by police, police brutality and the recent deaths of unarmed citizens by police.

That’s right; these men want to give police even greater control over citizens by using the leverage of the threat of them being charged with a felony!  Never mind the fact that police have been found on previous occasions to have lied when they said that someone resisted arrest!  Never mind that police have used excessive force on numerous occasions!  Never mind the questionable deaths of many innocent people like Michael Brown, Erick Garner and Tamir Rice at the hands of police!

What do the commissioner and Patrick Lynch suggest is done to address the problems with police with respect to these situations and others like them?  For example, the recent situation like the one where a NYPD police officer was charged with stomping the head of someone he arrested?

Commissioner Bratton is a former police officer and although he may be a good man with good intentions, it appears that his natural instinct leads him to side with police officers rather than look at the problem objectively.  These protesters and citizens throughout the country who support them are not anti-police as Patrick Lynch has said that they are.

I don’t know about you but I think that somehow those powers that be are going to have to someway find a diverse group of police – including some who are already retired, and civilians who can look at this problem objectively and make a sincere effort to solve it.  We must bring police and communities together again and again make them (almost) as one.  America still won’t be the stuff of fairy tales but it will be better and at least working toward becoming a more perfect union.

Eulus Dennis

Guns, Measles, and the Middle East

Even if you do not usually follow politics or you are someone who avoids it altogether, there are some political issues that, by their very nature, command your attention.  There are those issues that have the potential of an immediate and direct impact on you and those that have the potential of a more distant and indirect impact.

Usually those that can have an immediate and direct impact are homegrown and those with the potential of a distant and indirect impact are world issues.  Many of the homegrown issues ebb and flow; normally as a result of politicians ‘kicking the can down the road’ because we as voters fail to hold them to account.

The world issues are a different story where voters are concerned.  Because most of us are unable to navigate the complexities of such issues, we leave the decisions associated with them up to our elected officials and trust that those decisions will be in the best interest of America and in our overall best interest.

Still, in order to have some degree of confidence that these officials will make informed and rational decisions on our behalf, we should want those who are representing us to be the best of the best.  That is why it is so important that we stay informed and always vote.  This applies to Democrats, Republicans and Independents: it also applies to those who closely follow politics and those who do not or usually avoid it altogether.

The problems that are occurring in the Middle East right now, especially the ISIS problem, are among those that are extremely complex and that we must rely on the wisdom and leadership of our elected officials to address.

There is no doubt that the majority of Americans do not want to be dragged into another war that would be extremely difficult to win.  But at the same time, this same majority knows that something has to be done to control ISIS, which is a deadly group whose agenda has the potential of an immediate negative impact on American interests in the Middle East and a distant – or even immediate – impact on America itself.

However, the more immediate problem that voters are faced with and the one that would likely be of more interest to those who eschew politics involves measles and guns.  Also, here is where we can likely draw a more clear line between red and blue; Republicans and Democrats.  Republicans are strong advocates of virtually uncontrolled gun rights.  And as to measles, two highly visible members of the Republican Party – Rand Paul and Chris Christie – who will likely run to become the 2016 nominee for president seem to be taking the need for children to be vaccinated lightly.

If you are a Republican – before you become too defensive, allow me to explain why I said these potential nominees for president are taking the need to vaccinate children lightly; I doubt that you are offended by the guns part of my statement.

It appears that measles is beginning to make a comeback since it was proclaimed eradicated in 2000 in the United States.  Although since its outbreak in Disneyland it has spread to at least 14 states around the country, these two Republican politicians have sidestepped vaccination questions.  When asked if parents should have their children vaccinated, they avoided providing a direct answer to this question.  Instead, they resorted to political pandering.  According to an article in The Hill by Peter Sullivan, Dr. Ben Carson – another highly visible Republican considering a run for president in 2016 blames the measles on immigrants.

With regards to guns, Republican controlled legislatures around the country have begun an effort to expand gun freedom by allowing guns in schools, official government meetings and various public places.  They have also begun efforts to rollback or repeal enacted laws that addressed issues like background checks, the allowed size of a gun’s magazine and control over how and if guns could be sold on the Internet.

Whether or not these new laws and rollback or repeal efforts are things that you agree with is not the primary issue.  What you must do before you can do anything either way about these issues is to make sure to register to vote.  Once you are a registered voter, make sure that you become informed on the issues then always vote.  Remember, your vote is the most important one of all…unless you don’t use it!

Eulus Dennis

How About a 10.3% Raise for Denver Elected Officials?

I read a recent article in denverpost.com by Jon Murray that said the Denver City Council gave its initial okay to a 10.3% raise for Denver elected officials.  According to the article, “Under the amended proposal, the first half of the salary increases would start July 20, when the winners of the May 5 election begin their terms.  The pay would be about $163,000 for the mayor; $141,000 for both the auditor and the clerk and recorder; and $87,500 for council members, with the president making roughly $10,000 more.”

The article further said that “In mid-2016, those salaries would increase again to $171,197 for the mayor; $148,061 for both the auditor and the clerk and recorder; and 91,915 for council members, with the president making about $11,000 more.”

Well isn’t that just peachy.  Although this increase is somewhat controversial and was opposed by some of the Council members before and after an amendment was added to make its acceptance more palatable, five of the thirteen members were still opposed to it.

These salaries are a pretty good chunk of change especially since – throughout America, including Colorado, it is all but impossible to get the country to agree to the minimum wage that President Obama has suggested.  Doesn’t it make you wonder if any of the elected officials in Colorado are fighting as hard for President Obama’s suggested minimum wage as some of the Denver City Council members did for an increase in these city elected officials salaries, which – incidentally included their own?

During his 2015 State of the Union address the president challenged members of congress to live on the annual salary produced by the minimum wage or vote to increase it.  He said, “…and everyone in this congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage I say this, if you truly believe you can work fulltime and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, try it.  If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.”

If the mayor, auditor and the clerk and recorder, and council members feel that these new salaries – of which the lowest would be more than six times the annual pay of a person earning the minimum wage –  are required for them to live reasonably, how on God’s green earth can they expect someone earning a minimum wage to even survive?  They need to accept the challenge put forth by President Obama and “try it” or be more empathetic and work just as hard in the interest of those whom they represent as they do in their own self-interest.

Jon Murray’s article also said that Mayor Hannock has returned recent salary increases but has not yet publicly expressed a position on the current pending increases.  It continued by stating that “Supporters of the proposal argue that the increases will help elected officials’ salaries keep up with Denver housing costs…”  And Council member Peggy Lehmann even said that “…constituents get good value and service for salaries that total less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the city’s $1.7 billion operating budget.”  Again, how peachy.  That should really do a lot to cheer up those who are struggling to survive on a minimum wage.

Obviously the city of Denver does not make Colorado law but perhaps it can do something to influence it with respect to the minimum wage.  Areas with constituents who vote for city elected officials and state elected officials have common ground.  And the majority of Americans favor a minimum wage increase so any effort to bring it about should be an added value to the ‘good value and service for salaries’ previously mentioned.

Even if Denver elected officials can do absolutely nothing to influence the minimum wage law, if for no other reason than to show support – or not, for constituents’ demand for an increase in the minimum wage; especially in light of their own impending large lucrative salary increase, they should figure out a way to weigh in publicly on this issue.  That would at least let their constituents know that they feel their pain.

Eulus Dennis