February 23, 2008

The ‘Party ID’ Game, Ct’d: MD DA not ID’d as Dem Until Para 6

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:35 pm

Unlike Congressman Rick Renzi, who is a Republican, and whose party membership was identified in the first word of an Associated Press report yesterday about his indictment (a backup copy of the AP article is at BizzyBlog’s host for future reference, saved for fair use and discussion purposes), the person involved in this situation, Wicomico County (MD) State’s Attornery Davis Ruark, is not a Republican.

This explains why the AP report of Ruark’s drunk-driving arrest begins devoid of any indication as to what party he might belong to:

Wicomico County State’s Attorney Davis R. Ruark was charged with drunken driving Friday night after being pulled over for speeding and crossing the center line, police said.

After failing field sobriety tests, Ruark was arrested and taken to Ocean City police headquarters, where he agreed to take a breath test and was found to have a blood-alcohol concentration greater than .08 percent, Maryland’s legal threshold for drunken driving, police said.

Ruark was cooperative throughout the arrest and offered no excuses or explanation for his actions, said Officer Michael Levy, an Ocean City police spokesman.

It is not until the sixth paragraph that we learn Ruark’s political party, followed by a reason why some people might remember him:

Ruark, a Democrat, has been state’s attorney in Wicomico since 1989. He is a member of the county’s Drug and Alcohol Abuse Council, and in 2004, he prosecuted Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps for drunken driving. Phelps pleaded guilty to driving while impaired and received 18 months’ probation.

Look at the bright side: Unlike the William Jefferson situation in the summer of last year that was considered in yesterday’s post (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the identification of Ruark as a Democrat occurred three paragraphs earlier (6th vs. 9th), and was crystal clear (Jefferson was never clearly identified as a Democrat, and the reader had to infer that he is from the same party as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi).

Totally separate from the party ID issue, I’m not sure why we should care who Ruark has prosecuted in the past. Other than the fact of Phelps’s celebrity, there doesn’t seem to be anything out of line in either direction in how Ruark handled his case. Is the AP writer of this unbylined article of the belief that Phelps should have been given lighter treatment, that Ruark is somehow getting just desserts, or what?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Taxation Outrage of the Day: Extensions of Chicago’s ‘No Sales’ Tax

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:54 am

From Chicago, home of Mayor Dictator for Life Richard Daley, as explained in a Chicago Sun-Times editorial (HT Taranto at Best of the Web):

Let’s say you go to the store to buy a loaf of bread, but then change your mind. You don’t buy the bread. Should you still have to pay a sales tax for the bread you never bought?

Obviously not. That’s not a tax — that’s a holdup.

But that is precisely what City of Chicago revenue officials are proposing to do with the city’s tax on real estate transfers: Hit you up for the tax even when the sale falls through.

Let’s say you decide to buy a house and make a down payment, but then back out of the deal and forfeit the down payment. Under the proposed new rule, you still would have to pay the city’s real estate transfer tax, which as of April 1 rises from $7.50 to $10.50 for every $1,000 of sales price.

Such lunacy bears repeating: The city would stick you with a transfer tax on real estate that never transfers.

This is just the most egregious example of weasel uses of the city’s real estate transfer tax. Revenue officials also are proposing that real estate transfer taxes be paid in full and upfront on property purchased in installments.

….. And then there is the truly annoying rule, passed in 2005, that imposes a real estate transfer tax on the property of couples when they get divorced. Whoever gets the house pays the transfer tax. Even though nothing is actually transferred …..

You may say that this “no-sales tax” can’t really happen? Well, as just seen, in divorce situations, it already does. So what the city wants to do is, in a sense, “merely” an extension of what they’re doing to married couples in Splitsville.

Did I forget to mention that this “creative” idea comes to you from a city controlled by one family for almost all of the past 50 years, whose current Mayor has less of a chance of losing an election than the Chicago Cubs baseball team (sigh) has of winning a World Series?

Next up, I suppose, is a tax for just looking at a property, or driving by it, or seeing it listed in the paper or on the Internet, or on the seller for just listing the property, or on the seller for thinking about listing the property …..

Positivity: Saving Monica

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:01 am

I saved this for the weekend, because it’s a two-parter (Part 2 at BizzyBlog, which is, like Part 1 below, is a small excerpt, will be here on Sunday morning), and each part is long — but worth every word.

Oh, and a warning — The story carries a triple-hankie alert, and if there isn’t a Pulitzer in this for Doug Most, there ought to be an investigation.


From various places in Greater Boston:

Saving Monica
February 10, 2008

She had just given birth and was full of joy. Then a deadly bacteria began ravaging her body, triggering a frantic race to keep her alive. But at what cost?

IT’S STILL DARK OUTSIDE as Monica Sprague and her fiance, Tony Jorge, drag themselves out of bed. It’s a muggy morning in August 2007. Their first-floor apartment in the yellow two-family with low ceilings and plush beige carpeting is quiet – Monica’s 9-year-old daughter from her first marriage is staying overnight with Tony’s mother. Monica and Tony are out the door by 5:30, driving down their narrow one-way street in Ayer, a rural town 35 miles northwest of Boston.

The journey for both of them to get to this day has been a bumpy one. Previous marriages failed. Families splintered. Cancer took all but one of their parents. Tony, short and stocky with a handsome, boyish face, jet-black hair, soothing voice, and a Bluetooth headset perpetually stuck in his ear, was born in Portugal, came to the States with his parents when he was 5, and grew up in Hudson. Monica, with shoulder-length brown hair and a bright, toothy smile that could light up a small town, was raised 10 miles away in Ashland, the youngest of six kids. Staying close to home, they got to know some of the same people, and first crossed each other’s paths at a Fourth of July party. Now, a little more than three years later, they are walking together through the front glass doors of Emerson Hospital in Concord to begin their next chapter together.

She’s 35. He’s 40. They’re not expecting any complications for her scheduled C-section, but Monica did have gestational diabetes during her first pregnancy and again for this one. That’s why, as a precaution, they had talked about what they should do if something went wrong.

“Save the baby,” Monica said.

“We can make another baby,” Tony answered. “We can’t make another you.”

Just after 6 a.m. on Thursday, August 9, Monica is admitted. She slips into her gown while Tony gets into scrubs. This will be her second delivery, but his first, and he doesn’t want to miss a thing. He’s so nervous that after getting himself changed and sterile, he steps outside for a cigarette, a sin that gets him yelled at by a nurse, who orders him into new scrubs and to wash up again.

By the time he’s ready, the doctors have started. They call him into the operating room, and he goes straight to the head of the bed. From behind his blue surgical mask, he sneaks a peek around the curtain just in time to watch his daughter be pulled out and unleash her first cry. The doctor hands the baby to a nurse, who gives her to a beaming Tony, who gives her to Monica, a final handoff that a nurse captures on Tony’s digital camera. Brown-haired, blue-eyed, 6-pound-14-ounce Sofia Maria is then taken for a few routine tests while surgeons stitch up Monica’s abdomen and Tony leaves to pick up Monica’s older daughter, Madalyn, and bring her back to the hospital. By noon, the whole family is together for the first time.

When Monica gets a fever later in the day, she passes it off as hormones, and nobody’s alarmed, least of all Tony, who goes home to rest. But the next two days her fever lingers, and she’s not having a bowel movement. Prune juice, suppositories, teas, nothing works. On Sunday morning, Emerson doctors, still puzzled, move her into the intensive care unit. She’s feeling bloated and experiencing sharp jabs in her abdomen, almost as if she’s giving birth again. She’s also wearing a mask to avoid passing on whatever she might have to her baby. With her pain still not subsiding, Monica finally calls Tony at home, crying in agony. He rushes to the hospital.

As soon as he arrives, doctors tell him they need to get her to Boston. They’ve run some cultures that show she has a strain of streptococcus, and while they don’t know how bad it is, it’s obvious she’s deteriorating rapidly. They have already called Massachusetts General Hospital and reached the senior surgical resident, Claudius Conrad. They mentioned the positive strep test and that she’s unstable; they’re fairly certain about what’s wrong with Monica and just want to get her emergency care immediately. The Emerson doctors ask him if they should put her in a helicopter for a five-minute ride or an ambulance for a 45-minute drive. Conrad doesn’t hesitate. He senses that the window of time to save her is closing. Fast.

Just before noon, Monica is rushed into the helicopter while Tony jumps into his car and races down Route 2 to Interstate 95 at close to 90 miles per hour. Getting on the Mass. Pike, he pays the toll with quarters, but when he comes to the Allston-Brighton exit, he just throws whatever change he has at the booth operator. “I have to get to the hospital!” he yells before speeding off.

He’s still driving when the MedFlight copter lands on the MGH helipad. It’s 12:12 p.m. when Monica is wheeled into the emergency room, where she’s pounced on by a team of residents, who poke and prod her body, searching for the source of her pain. They insert a catheter to pump some fluids into her, and they notice that her belly is as hard as a board, a strong sign of inflammation or infection. The on-call surgeon in the operating room hustles down and finds Monica hysterical and struggling to breathe. Her heart is racing at 160 beats per minute and her blood pressure is dangerously low at 70/30 – and dropping.

Tony arrives just before 1 p.m. and finds Conrad, who, in polite yet blunt language, tells him that Monica is in bad shape, that her body is going into septic shock, and that she has some kind of an infection and has to go to the operating room immediately.

“She has a high chance of dying,” Conrad tells Tony, “but we’ll do everything possible.”

Tony blurts back the only thing that comes into his head. “We just had a baby. She has a 9-year-old daughter. Do what you can.” …..

Go here for the rest of Part 1.