The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on March 8, 1983 · Page 4
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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page 4

Des Moines, Iowa
Issue Date:
Tuesday, March 8, 1983
Page 4
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1 .1 I lit. lto MOi Nt KfcAilbl LK 1 Utl., "! USDA denial of allegations 14,148 costs By GEORGE ANTHAS Of TV RegtUTfi ftVw9Kn BurMu WASHINGTON, D.C. - An Agriculture Department report rebutting allegations that its meat inspection program is "seriously deficient" was aided by a consulting firm at a cost of more than $14,000. The USDA report was released amid charges by Ralph Nader's Center for the Study of Responsive Law that the Reagan administration relaxed its inspection programs under pressure from the meat and poultry industries The USDA reply, Issued by the department's Food Safety and Inspection Service, came about 10 days later. Agriculture officials said Monday it was prepared with help from Thomas Grumbly, formerly of the USDA's inspection service and now an official of Temple, Barker & Sloane, a Boston srea consulting firm They said the company was paid $14,140. Inspection service staff members wrote most of the report, said USDA officials. They could not estimate the department's cost of replying to the Nader group Kathleen Hughes, author cf the Nader group's report, said the cost of her study "was probably not more than $7,000, when you consider my salary and the paperwork involved." One USDA official said Grumbly was hired ' because we didn't have the manpower and resources to do the job. We're pretty lean." Grumbly, who was a USDA employee during the Carter administration, "knows a lot about the policies of this agency and was here at a time when some of those policies were started," said Judith Segal, acting director of the inspection service's division of policy and planning. Segal said a major reason for hiring Grumbly was that sue was ill for three weeks at the time the Nader-group s report was issued. "Normally, we wouid not contract out work on things we know better," she said. In its rebuttal, the USDA said its enforcement of meat and poultry inspection laws "is about the same as it has been in the past" and strongly denied any relaxation of its effort. The department also denied that it is suppressing findings of its program review branch at Lawrence, Kan., or that new slaughter inspection methods are producing potential health and safety hazards for consumers. Hughes said she was "very surprised' that US. Representative Tom Harkin iDem., Ia.) decided not to conduct hearings into the Nader group's charges. Harkin is chairman of the House agriculture subcommittee with jurisdiction over the USDA's meat and poultry inspection service. He rejected the Nader group's charges, saying he is "satisfied the Reagan administration is not imperiling the nation's meat and poultry inspection program. ..." Slain boy, 5, had 'realistic' toy gun, police photos show AP PHOTO 4V i I IsW Stanton, Calif., police released this photo of the tov pistol police say was pointed at an officer last week by 5-year-old Patrick Andrew Mason. Officer Anthony Sperl, 24, fatally shot the boy as police responded to a neighbor's call that the child's mother bad not been seen in two weeks. STANTON, CALIF. (AP) - Police, swamped by phone calls and threatened with protests after an officer shot and killed a 5-year-old boy, released photos Monday of a "very realistic" toy gun the boy allegedly pointed at the policeman. Officer Anthony Sperl, 24, shot Patrick Andrew Mason to death last Thursday evening after entering the apartment where the child lived with his mother, Patricia Ridge, 29. "We've been inundated with a lot of telephone calls from all over the country," said Stanton police Capt. James Brown. "It's about 50 percent saying that we're cold-blooded killers and 50 that the officer had no other choice." Police had between 80 and 100 calls over the weekend from people as far away as New York, Brown said. About 20 chanting members of the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee demonstrated Monday afternoon at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to protest the shooting. The child was black and the officer is white. PEFSJ Sperl was suspended from the police force as a matter of policy while authorities Investigate the shooting. The black plastic toy gun shown in the photos is "quite comparable to an actual .38-caliber, 2-inch barrel" gun; said Sgt. Robert Ohlemann, adding that it is "very realistic looking." Sperl had gone to the apartment after a neighbor called police to say she had not seen the mother in two weeks. Ridge was at work and Patrick was alone in the darkened apartment, illuminated only by a television. Sperl kicked open a door after knocking and identifying himself, and he saw the gun pointed in his direction by a figure he couldn't make out, Brown said. He fired at the enate panel OKs jobs bill WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) - The Senate Appropriations Committee approve! a recession relief measure Monday that is $1 billion less than the Democratic-controlled House approved last week for jobs and humanitarian assistance. The $3.S billion measure is expected to come up for debate in the full Senate this week, and passage is expected. The Republican-controlled committee took steps to make sure the funds are targeted to areas of high unemployment, approving a complicated formula that would benefit 15 states that had a higher rate of unemployment than the national average for all of 1982. Those states are Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. That led to complaints by some members of the committee, who said that some of the funds were earmarked for states represented by influential committee members. Democrat Thomas Eagleton of Missouri said the money should be allocated on the basis of national need. Among other things, the bill contains $263 million for construction of Veterans Administration hospitals; $155 million for various railroad projects and $470 million for the Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Tennessee Valley Authority, all of which would be spent on jobs-creating construction projects. Perjured officials protected from suits WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) - Police officers and other government witnesses who lie at trials cannot be sued by people convicted as a result of the false testimony, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday. The court's fi-3 decision said government officials like all non-government witnesses have 'absolute immunity" from such lawsuits. The ruling does not preclude, however, the possibility that police officers and other officials who lie while on the witness stand could be criminally prosecuted for perjury. The decision also does not make it harder for people to get their convictions overturned if key testimony against them is proved later to have beer, false. In other matters Monday, the court: Refused to condemn state-run television stations that in 1980 opted not to air a controversial program called "Death of a Princess." The court left intact a ruling that viewers' constitutional rights were not violated by those stations not airing the dramatization of events leading up to the 1977 executions for adultery of a Saudi Arabian princess and her commoner lover Agreed in a Camden, N.J., case to take another look at cities' moves to fight local unemployment by reserving jobs on public construction projects for city residents. The justices last week upheld the use of such job quotas in Boston, ruling that the city's plan favoring city residents does not unconstitutionally interfere with interstate commerce. But the decision left unanswered whether policies like those in Boston and Camden violate that portion of the Constitution requiring all states to give citizens of any state the same "privileges and immunities" the states give their own residents. Ruled unanimously in a case from North Dakota that states may not revoke permission that allows the federal government to acquire land easements to help protect migratory birds. Ruled unanimously in a Tennessee case that people Guru's mom appeals PORTLAND, ORE. (AP) - The mother of Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh has appealed her deportation order, an immigration official said Monday. Canada, others dislike weather service proposal Continued from Page une Byrne has said in writing that no action would be taken without congressional approval. The chief rationale for selling the weather and land-viewing satellites, one former iSOAA official said, is that the United States is quickly falling behind other nations in the commercial exploitation of satellites for agriculture and mineral and oil exploration. France and Japan both are planning to launch commercial satellites to take and sell land pictures. Neither has announced any interest in operating commercial we;tther satellites. One university scientist said selling the weather satellite system to a private company could harm the work of professional weather researchers and reduce the quality of data gathered if profit becomes the primary motive. "The whole system could be permanently disabled," he said. Another scientist, Robert Fleagle, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, said selling of the satellites appears to be only one part of the commercialization of many parts of NCAA that "could come down to dismantling a good portion of the country's weather services." Since weather monitoring, data analysis and forecasting require a large, well-coordinated organization, he said, "A lack of a government infrastructure would really be a serious thing. A commercial outfit itself would just not have the raw material to work with." A Canadian official said his government also was "very concerned" about the satellites' being sold to private companies. Noting that the American government already sells non-weather satellite data, he said, "We have a satellite looking down at our country and we don't call it a spy satellite because we have non-discriminatory access to it But if we were charged 100 times as much by some company, then we might begin to wonder about this. "Meteorological data has traditionally been free," he ad.ied. "Everything that a country gathers is thrown into the pot to make the world wea. her system work." Because of its large land masses, Canada spends five times as much as the United States per capita on weather monitoring, with much of the Canadian data becoming part of the daily weather forecast for parts of the United States. Scheuer said Congress would have to take "a long and careful look" at any administration proposal. "The only serious proposal so far from the commercial satellite firm Comsat could cost the government well over $300 million per year in subsidies, and that may be significantly more than the government now pays for these services, or to provide these data," Scheuer said. Of the approximately 12,000 employees at MOAA, the jobs of 3,500 will be reviewed for "commercializing," according to NOAA official William Coleman. That figure does not count the possible satellite sale. By one congressional estimate, 40 percent of the entire agency might be considered for "commercializing " Byrne said the White House has not made a decision on selling the satellites or parts of the weather service. But he said the proposed changes are all "geared to a leaner, harder, more efficient operation" of the government. "I don't think there is any question that in the future we are not going to continue doing business as we have in the past," he said. "The changes are more significant than they have been in the past. When you look at the federal deficit, you can see we've got to do something." He said service agencies have to be considered candidates to be turned - over to commercial hands. "In some cases someone ought to be able to make a profit on some of these things," Byrne said. can sue the government when federal inspectors fail to spot defects in houses that the Farmers Home Administration helps finance. In the lying-witness case, the court said a federal law that allows citizens to collect money from government officials who violate their rights cannot be invoked when those violations occur on the witness stand 1 The much-used civil rights law was passed by Congress shortly after the Civil War. "Nothing in the language of the statute suggests that such a witness belongs in a narrow, special category lacking protection against damage suits," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the court. He said government officials who might testify falsely at trials have two "public policy" claims to immunity from lawsuits. The first is that all non-government witnesses traditionally enjoy such immunity. The second is that a police officer "may be regarded as an official performing in a critical role in the judicial process." Past Supreme Court decisions have cloaked judges and prosecutors in "absolute immunity" from lawsuits growing out of their duties in legal proceedings. Joining Stevens were Chief Justice Warren Burger and Justices Byron White, Lewis Powell, William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O'Connor. Justices Thurgood Marshall, William Brennan and Harry Blackmun dissented. Marshall wrote that "police officers and other government officials differ significantly from private citizens, around whom common-law doctrines of witness immunity developed." Common law is based on customs rather than statutes. "A police officer comes to the witness stand clothed with the authority of the state," Marshall said. "His official status gives him credibility and creates a far greater potential for harm than exists when the average citizen testifies." Two insurance firms arrange to obey law Continued. from Page One according to Frederick L. Broers, senior vice president and actuary. But he said the loss was only in an accounting sense. The annuities are referred to in the industry as being "back-loaded" 100 percent of the fir3t-year premium is credited to customers' accounts, while commissions and other administrative costs are charged against income, he said. Insurance companies make their profits in subsequent years from a portion of the interest income generated from investing the annuity payments, he said. Century Life's problems with the state developed because sales grew faster than expected in 1982, according to Hessburg. When the company's year-end figures were compiled in February, it was discovered that the operations less reduced the surplus below the state-mandated level, Broers said. Hessburg said $3 million was transferred from Lutheran Mutual to Century Life as soon as the technical deficiency was found. "Yeah, we should have had it in by the end of the year, but we didn't think it was that big of a deal," Hessburg said. He added that he thought he had calmed worries of Insurance Department officials last Friday during a telephone conversation. "We Were in Error" Meanwhile, Robert Molinero, president of Independent Truckers Insurance Co., conceded that "we were in error" by not having enough money in the company's surplus account Dec. 31. State records show that the company, which primarily writes collision insurance for truckers, had $147,780 in surplus at year's end, when state law required a minimum of $300,000. Mclinero, who also is president of Warren Transport of Waterloo, said stockholders made arrangements Monday to put enough money into the company to meet state requirements. Molinero said the company's capital problems involve the redemption of preferred stock owned by a subsidiary firm. "We were notified Friday, and we made arrangements over the weekend for a letter of credit. But the law says it has to be cash, so I guess they did what they felt they had to do," Molinero said. Congressional approval not needed for guidelines Like officials of the Waverly insurance firm, Molinero said the violation was of a technical nature and he said the company at all times had sufficient financial resources to meet claims. Hearings on the two suspensions are scheduled for Friday at the Insurance Department's offices in Des Moines Strike shuts down commuter trains NEW YORK, N Y. (AP) - A conductors' strike shut down a second major commuter railroad Monday, bringing to 160.000 the number of suburbanites forced to use subways, buses and cars to reach their jobs in Manhattan. Some apparently just stayed home. The walkout against Metro-North, serving 90,000 commuters north of the city, was coupled with a nearly week-old trainmen's strike against the NJ Transit rail system, which has forced 70,000 New Jersey commuters to find alternate means of transportation. The Metro-North strike is over management's demand to be able to reduce the size of train crews. Trains affected by this strike run from New York City to Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties in New York and Fairfield and New Haven counties in Connecticut. Continued from Page One interest, so long as the minimum standard for investigation is satisfied." Under the old guidelines, there was a tendency to close investigations and end informant coverage when there was a lull in violent criminal activity or when a group had simply gone dormant. Conduct investigations of persons for advocating in a public speech criminal activity or indicating "an apparent intent to engage in crime," particularly violent crimes. Although the Levi guidelines did not deal as directly with the sensitive question of advocacy, they required agents to consider such questions as the immediacy and magnitude of a threatened harm and the danger to privacy and free expression before conducting a full investigation. Concern in Congress Representative Don Edwards (Dem., Calif ), chairman of a House Judiciary subcommittee that oversees the FBI's domestic security work, said he was concerned that the new guidelines would permit full in vestigations based on advocacy alone. "The Supreme Court mas made it clear that mere advocacy is not enough to warrant a prosecution," Edwards said. "Yet the FBI wants to investigate speech. If such investigations cannot result in prosecution, then what other purpose can they serve than to chill legitimate First Amendment activities?" Edwards, who has asked representatives of the FBI and Department of Justice to testify at hearings on the changes before they take effect, said he wanted the law enforcement officials to give the same assurances in public that he said they gave in private that the new rules are not a signal to expand domestic security investigations. Senator Jeremiah Denton (Rep., Ala ), chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on security and terrorism, called the changes a "step in the right direction," although he said that he was not completely satisfied with them. The guidelines do not need to be approved by Congress, although Congress could pass laws to overrule them. Senate confirms Abramowitz WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) - The Senate on Monday confirmed President Reagan's nomination of Morton Abramowitz as U.S. envoy to the negotiations in Vienna on East-West conventional force reductions. Abramowitz, a career Foreign Service officer, replaces Richard Starr, whose resignation was demanded by the administration. Starr was dismissed after State Department complaints that he tended to make statements on his Own and was so concerned about security that he sought to have the members of the delegation provided with side arms. Abramowitz was confirmed by voice vote. Rare disease probed ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (AP) -Nash County physicians are trying to find the source of a rare neurological disorder, Guillain-Barre syndrome, which has struck five victims in a five-block neighborhood of Rocky Mount. figure, who turned out to be the boy, Brown said. The mother may have been guilty cf child endangerment because she left Patrick alone on three days last week while she worked as an apprentice auto mechanic, Brown said. Reagan refuses to react to questions on Burford WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) -President Reagan and his chief spokesman refused to say Monday how the president would react to an offer of resignation by Anne Gorsuch Burford, administrator of the troubled Environmental Protection Agency Reagan, who was asked about such a resignation during a photo session, refused to reply and suggested there had been too much talk already about whether Burford would leave her post. Larry Speakes, the chief presidential spokesman, said Reagan stood by his statement Saturday that Burford could remain in her job as long as she wants to and that he. retained confi dence in her. But, asked how the president would feel if she quit, Speakes said, "I don't think I'll entertain a question like that." He also cautioned reporters at a White House news briefing that they should not read into that statement any lack of support for the EPA chief. A half-dozen congressional panels are probing the EPA, and several congressmen, including leading Republicans, have called on Burford to quit in view of the uproar at the agency. Aides to the EPA chief said last week that she hoped to meet with Reagan to urge release of documents on hazardous-waste cleanup that are the focus of contempt of Congress charges against her. 'Brain-dead' tot dies; was sold by parents FORT MYERS, FLA. (AP) - A 2-year-old boy sold by his parents for $300 and "brain-dead" from an accident suffered in a foster home died Monday when his life-support system was shut off, authorities said. "The child had basically been brain-dead since admission to the hospital March 1," Lee County Medical Examiner Dr. Wally Graves said after completing an autopsy on Oscar Ocasio. The child died Monday morning in the intensive care unit at Lee Memorial Hospital. Hospital spokeswoman Linda Moorey refused to say whether Oscar died after his parents, Miguel and Luce Ocasio, agreed to disconnect a respirator. In Tallahassee, however, state Health and Rehabilitative Services spokesman Danny Pietrodangelo said he had been told doctors and nurses "removed the child from a life-support system." The lawyer for Oscar's parents, Leonard Liszewski, also said Oscar's respirator had been turned off. Lee County sheriff's deputies are investigating the accident last week in which Oscar was seriously hurt. He reportedly also suffered a broken arm and was scalded by hot water in previous accidents at the foster home. The foster mother told police that Oscar fell and hit his head on the floor. The child was put in foster care nine months ago after police discovered that his parents had sold him for $300 to Aida and Juan Jose Gonzalez, also of Fort Meyers. Charges against the Gonzalezes were dropped in exchange for their testimony against the Ocasios. 2 men pose as guards, take $400,000 at bank SEEKONK, MASS. (AP) - Two men dressed as guards entered a bank with a hand truck right after an armored-car delivery Monday, loaded money from the vault and escaped with an estimated $400,000, police said. Police Capt. James Healy said the men were "admitted to the vault area" at the First Bristol County National Bank branch because their uniforms gave "the impression they were bank guards or money transporters." "My understanding is that there was one female bank employee there, and they started to load up the money bags that Brink's had just left," Healy said. "The woman employee began to question them about what they were doing. One of them put his hand on a sidearm he was wearing and indicated it was a robbery and to be quiet. She obeyed." Healy said the men went outside with the money on the hand truck, were joined by two other men and fled with the money in a car that was recovered about 15 minutes later a half-mile away. Healy said officers are searching for a blue van stolen earlier in the day from Acme Electric Sales and Service Co. in Cambridge. He said the thieves also took Acme employee uniforms that resemble those worn by the robbers. Segregation ended BRAINTREE, MASS. (AP) - Men and women arriving at polling places for the town election Monday lined up together as ordered by a court that had banned the half-century-old practice of having separate voting lines for each sex.

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