TV folks looking for May sweeps projects should consider this one from The Orange County (Calif.) Register. It is a great story on how restraining orders so often fail to protect the people they are intended to protect.
The paper found that California’s complex system vary from county to county. Look at this summary of The Register’s findings to give you an idea of what you might look for in your state/county/city:
An Orange County Register survey
of all 58 California counties, and interviews with judges,
law-enforcement officials, victims of domestic violence and their
advocates revealed systemic problems, clerical glitches and judicial
Among the findings:
- Eleven counties… require the
person requesting a restraining order to give advance notice to the
person from whom they are seeking protection. Such a warning can
inflame an already combustible relationship, or help abusers avoid
being served with the order.
- Almost one-third of
restraining orders issued in civil or Family Law Courts are listed as
unserved, making them invalid. An order cannot be enforced until it is
- Hundreds — perhaps thousands
– of restraining orders are not entered into a state database used by
police to verify and enforce active restraining orders, despite a state
law requiring entry within one business day. Without a record of the
order, police can be left powerless to arrest violators — and victims
left without protection.
- None of the state’s counties
enforces a law prohibiting individuals under a restraining order from
owning or buying guns, or ensures that firearms are surrendered as
When the pieces are in place,
and the system operates exactly as it should, restraining orders act
like stop signs. They are not a guarantee of safety. Instead they are
legal barriers designed to keep people from doing harm.
There are about 260,000 active restraining orders in California.
About 147,000 are criminal protective orders — issued when domestic
violence cases are prosecuted or as a condition of probation. The
remaining 113,000 are issued in civil or Family Court when a petitioner
demonstrates “reasonable proof” of domestic violence.
In the majority of cases,
these restraining orders serve their purpose, offering protection that
allows victims to escape abusive relationships. However, in a
significant number of cases, the system falters and the barriers can be
easily punctured. In early February, for example, the state database
showed more than 40,000 civil and criminal restraining orders were not
That means at least one in every seven restraining orders issued in California
was useless — and victims were counting on protection they did not
have. The rate of unserved restraining orders rises to one in three
when only civil orders are taken into account.
School Chiefs Cashing In
The Buffalo (N.Y.) News
probed behind the salaries of local school superintendents to find the
sweet deals they are getting on everything from accrued sick leave to
paid-up life insurance plans. One superintendent has accumulated more than
$216,000 in vacation and sick-time benefits that will be paid out in
cash when he retires.
Another superintendent will get $5,000 in moving
benefits when she retires.
True Stories of Night Hunters
The Mobile (Ala.) Register
included a nice piece on conservation officers, the folks who hunt down hunters
who illegally shoot game at night. Since November, one pair of Alabama officers has made 60 arrests for night hunting.
What the Energy Auditor Sees
I have been meaning to pass along this wonderful piece from the St. Paul, Minn. Pioneer Press’ Molly Millett, about couples who fight over where to set the household
thermostat. It turns out that energy auditors get a good glimpse into
marriages when they are called in to help couples get a handle on their
Over the years, I have seen a lot of flight-tracker maps, but this is the coolest one yet. Put in an airline or flight number, and you can track, in real time with real live data, any commercial aircraft. This is a significantly more detailed tracker than you are used to. This one has great news applications, I think.
The Aging Wood Industry
My father was a
timber man. None of his sons wanted to follow in his tracks. I
certainly had no interest in working that hard for a living. I see in The (Eugene, Ore.) Register-Guard newspaper that I am not alone. The timber industry is aging, and wood companies are facing a crisis.
The paper said:
The logging and mill jobs that have sustained families in Oregon for
decades no longer hold the allure for young people that they once did. [...]
That’s a troubling trend for an industry in decline. Employment in
the wood products industry, including paper manufacturing and logging,
declined 28 percent in Lane County
– a loss of 3,014 jobs — from 1990 to 2000, according to a new report
by the Lane Workforce Partnership. Employment is expected to further
decline by 5.7 percent — a loss of 290 jobs — from 2004 to 2014, the
At the same time, the average age of workers in wood products is
increasing. So when openings created by retiring workers are factored
in, wood products will have 1,021 openings to fill from 2004 to 2014,
the report projects.
“There’s clearly an acknowledgment at the management level that
there’s a pending crisis,” said Eric Hansen, professor of forest
products marketing at Oregon State University’s College of Forestry.
“If you look at a company like Weyerhaeuser, the senior management
team across the board is quite old, and there will be a huge
transition,” Hansen said.
companies clearly have a lot of succession planning going on,” he said.
“It’s not so clear whether the smaller companies, even though they
recognize the problem, are acting on it.
Is This What You Want Your College (Or Future Employer) to Know About You?
The Reading (Pa.) Eagle has a story about how school administrators
are scouring Facebook.com to see what students are up to. They often
find pictures from drunken frat parties or worse. The paper warns that
those kinds of pictures can haunt students long after school.
Similar things are happening at colleges around the country. The University of Notre Dame’s Observer has a similar story. And so did the Contra Costa (Calif.) Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Tarentum, Pa. Valley News Dispatch. The University of Nevada’s newspaper, The Nevada Sagebrush, ran an editorial on Facebook this week.
Editor’s Note: Al’s Morning Meeting is a compendium
of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of
Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the
information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed
and a link will be provided whenever possible. The column is
fact-checked, but depends upon the accuracy and integrity of the
original sources cited. Errors and inaccuracies found will be corrected.