St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on October 19, 1989 · Page 27
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 27

St. Louis, Missouri
Issue Date:
Thursday, October 19, 1989
Page 27
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ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH ana: EDITORIALS 2 COMMENTARY 3 OBITUARIES 4 GENERAL NEWS .... 4 N C sectio THURSDAY, OCTOBER 19, 1989 onecker Rose Fell On Hard Line NEWS fJ MOM' Jul Duties Clash; Friends Lose kEOPLE WHOSE jobs are to "enforce the law are some- y times put in the uncomfort able position of having to decide when their private lives end and their professional responsibilities begin. What does a judge do after seeing someone smoke pot at a party? Call the cops? How about a police officer who is attracted to a criminal suspect? 9 . Such a scenario was played out in a current movie, "Sea of Love," but less dramatic examples are nt uncommon. Then there's the prosecutor whose longtime friend tells her he's being blackmailed with threats to publicly brand him as a child , molester. That's what happened to Carrie Costantin. Costantin was in the eighth grade in University City when her father died. She turned for comfort to her social-studies teacher, James Longo. "He took the role of an uncle," she recalled, and became friends with her and her family. "He was a very close friend of mine." The two stayed in touch as Costantin went to high school, college and law school. In 1987, she was hired as an assistant prosecutor in St. Louis County. Last year, she agreed to manage Longo's campaign for the University City School Board. She organized ; coffees, analyzed lists of voters and ' - put together a campaign staff. One evening in early March last year, she got a call from Longo, who she said was "very, very upset." He said he had just been paid a visit by V a young man, 18, whom he had counseled. We'll call him John, not his real name. "He said John had come to his house, he was suicidal. . . . John said, 'I'm a bad person, and you're a ' bad person; you molested me. If you '. i don't give me money, I'm going to tell,'" Costantin said, v She asked Longo if the allegations were true. He told her the only physical contact had been a "ritual of birthday spankings," once when John was in his underwear, she said. Costantin thought her friend was the victim of blackmail. She told him not to be alone with John and to tape any conversations with him. She said she would call her office for further advice. Costantin talked to another prosecutor, who "said it sounded like he Longo was guilty" and that police would look into John's story. "I went back to Jim and told him if he went to the police there would be a full Investigation, that he should contact an attorney," she said. In the ensuing weeks, Costantin and other members of the cam-t paign took turns staying overnight with Longo in case John returned. Longo and one of his friends say she went a step further. They said she went though his apartment, removing items that prosecutors s might think were suspicious. She denied that, On March 30, 1 988, she went with Longo to meet with a defense attorney, Alan Zvibleman. The possibili-t ty of a guilty plea was discussed. . , Longo and Zvibleman met private- ly, and when they emerged, Longo told Costantin: "Alan says the tape Is devastating." He was referring to a tape recording John had secretly made of his conversation with Longo. ,'. At that point, Costantin con-; fronted her friend, demanding to know the truth. She said he admit- ted touching John. Longo's version . is that he said he touched John's genitals, but only "after he was 18 and at his request." "She became very angry and verbally attacked me," Longo said. I "I told Jim our friendship was j over," she said. a A month later, Longo was charged with deviate sexual assault - and sexual misconduct. And Costan-; tin faces the prospect of testifying against him. Whether she will re-Z. mains to be seen, because the de- fense won a court order prohibiting her testimony. The judge said her conversations with Longo were confidential under- the attorney-client privilege. - No matter how that legal question i is resolved, and whether or not Longo is found guilty, it's surely one of the most painful cases In which Costantin will ever participate. t . It would be easy for her to sec- ond-guess her actions, as she has no doubt done. Should she have been more suspicious, more careful from the beginning? Was her friendship with Longo a mistake? In any event, Costantin has found early in her career what some lawmen and women know and what others never figure out: that It's difficult to divide the world into black and white, the good guys and the bad guys, "us" and "them." Sometimes there are gray areas where friendships are the casualties. By The Associated Press BERLIN ERICH HONECKER ROSE to power in East Germany after sealing a workers' exodus to the West by building the Berlin Wall in 1961. But his deaf ear to public cries for more democracy led to a second exodus, and he was through. Honecker, 77, was forced from leadership Wednesday after 18 years as Communist Party chief. Honecker oversaw the building of socialism's strongest economy and a period of steadily improved relations with both East and West. But the short, bespectacled Communist failed to fall in step with the new march of communism in Eastern Europe. The East German government under Honecker defended China's bloody crackdown of the pro-democracy movement in June, and violent clashes between security forces and demonstrators were reported in major East German cities during and after Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev's visit to East Berlin Oct. 6-7. When tens of thousands took to the streets of Leipzig in recent days to demand the kinds of reforms sweeping Poland, Hungary and the Soviet Union, Honecker's state news organizations branded the demonstrators "hooligans." Meanwhile, in the past two months, more than 53,000 others lost faith that the system could be changed under Honecker or under his hand-picked successor and fled to West Germany. Honecker's health was blamed for his departure. He is known to have suffered complications from gallbladder surgery in August. West German intelligence reports say he has cancer. But his views of socialist dictates probably inflicted more damage than any illness. For years under Honecker, East German border guards had orders to shoot anyone who tried to flee the country. At least 91 people were shot to death after the Berlin Wall went up in 1961 to cut off an escape route to the West. East Germany's New Leader Articulate, By The Associated Press BERLIN GON KRENZ, East Germany's new Comal munist Party leader, grew to political ma- turity under the tutelage of his hard-line predecessor, Erich Honecker. Convivial and articulate, Krenz's outgoing nature offers a personal contrast to the aging, ailing Honecker, 77. But politically he adheres to the same orthodox brand of party doctrine as his ousted mentor. ADN, the state-run news agency, announced Wednesday that Krenz, 52, had succeeded Honecker as head of the party, the government and the armed forces. Honecker came under increasing fire at home as opposition mounted and an exodus of refugees continued. Krenz, a career politician, is by far the youngest official on the 21-member Politburo dominated by aging Communists, many of them in their 70s. But he has a reputation for following Poverty Rate In U.S. Resists Improvement By Jon Sawyer Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau WASHINGTON THE U.S. CENSUS BUREAU'S annual report on Income and poverty, issued on . Wednesday, shows per capita income at its highest point ever and the first reduction in the percentage of Impoverished children since 1986. But the nation's overall poverty rate remained virtually static at 13.1 percent, stubbornly resistant to improvement despite six years of economic expansion. According to the Census report, based on surveys conducted in March, 31.9 million Americans were living in poverty last year, compared with 32.3 million the previous year. The income threshold for poverty varies depending on the size of family from $6,024 for a single person to $12,092 for a four-perspn family to $24,133 for a nine-person family. "It's a year basically in which most groups stayed the same or improved," said William Butz, associate director for demographics at the bureau. The only region of the country reporting a statistically significant decrease in poverty was the Midwest, where the poverty rate fell to 11.5 percent from 12.5 percent. Butz said that meant that 600,000 fewer people in the Midwest whose income was below the poverty line. The Midwest and the Northeast also reported increases in median household income. Median income increased by 2.6 percent in the Midwest, to $27,540; the increase in the Northeast was 3.7 percent, to $30,430. Per capita income, which reflects total income averaged over the entire population, increased by 1.7 percent, to $13,120 nationally. This included an increase of 1.5 percent in per capita income for whites, to $13,900; an increase of 3.9 percent in per capita income for blacks, to Nader Skewers By Victor Volland Of the Post-Dispatch Staff THE CONSUMER Rights revolution spurred by Ralph Nader nearly a quarter century ago was alive and well Wednesday in Washington University's Graham Chapel. An overflow crowd estimated at 1,000 persons cheered on the grass-roots guru as he renewed his attack on an old foe, corporate America, and took some shots at a newer target, political campaign financing. The two have become increasingly intertwined in the eight years of President Ronald Reagan's administration and continue to be so under President George Bush, Nader said. "We still have Ronald Reagan in the White House, as far as political philosophies go," he said. "Bush is a smiling encore to the smiling former actor who preceded him." Under Reagan, Big Business enjoyed increasing power and privilege, said Nader, author of "The BigiBoys: Power and Position in American Joe;' w East German Politburo member Egon Krenz (left) talking with then Party Leader Erich Honecker at a meeting in 1985. Honecker led the party for 18 years before being succeeded by Krenz. Though born in what is now West Germany, Honecker rejected all suggestions that the two Germanys be reunited. ELgon Krenz's outgoing nature offers a personal contrast to the aging, ailing Erich Honecker, 77. But politically he adheres to the same orthodox brand of party doctrine as his ousted mentor. Honecker's hard line. A burly, bushy-haired man, Krenz long has been plagued by rumors that he was an alcoholic although virtually nothing has surfaced to substantiate that. He is known for his spontaneous visfts to local bars and restaurants that give his bodyguards the jitters. Sources in the Communist Party say he likes to strike up conversations with patrons. Krenz was born the son of a tailor in Kolberg, a coastal towrr in what is now northwestern Poland, on March 19, 1937. He joined East Germany's communist youth 'New Math' Could Slash Numbers Of Poor By Jon Sawyer Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau WASHINGTON THE U.S. CENSUS BUREAU disclosed on Wednesday a new tool In the war on poverty that would cost nothing, could be accomplished by executive order and would be guaranteed, in the space of a moment, to pare the nation's poverty rolls by nearly 10 percent. It's called changing the numbers. Under the Census Bureau's "alternative" calculation, which officials said was being made public for the purpose of discussion only, the poverty rate for last year would be 11.6 percent, compared with 13.1 percent in the official statistics. ' William Butz, the bureau's associate director for demographics, attributed the lower figure to the retroactive application of the methodology now used in computing the consumer price index. "Our only interest," he said, "is in producing the most accurate data." In terms of real people, the change would mean a reduction of approximately 3.7 million in the number of people officially consid $8,270; and no statistically significant change in per capita income for Hispanics, with income at $7,960. Poverty rates showed no statistically significant change, either nationally or by race and ethnic origin. The poverty rate among blacks, at 31.6 percent, remained the highest of all groups. Corporate 'Big "W. still have Ronald Reagan in the White House, as far as political philosophies go. Bush is a smiling encore to the smiling former actor who preceded him. 1 1 RALPH NADER Business." With few exceptions, he said, business chiefs have abdicated their role as community leaders and models and have consistently opposed controls on their pollution of the nation's air, water and soil. When leaned on by Congress or state legislatures, they have threatened to take their factories and offices to another state or another country to get their way, he said. Nader said the public was growing increasingly cynical about its legislators in the wake of A AP "Socialism and capitalism can be no more united than fire and water," be commented on his historic visit to West Germany in 1987. organization in 1953, while he was in high school and the nation of East Germany was 4 years old. Krenz was mocked by some for staying on as head of the young communist Freie Deutsche Jugend until he was well into his 40s. Many East Germans called him "the professional youth." Krenz studied to become a teacher but joined the East German army and rose to the rank of lieutenant before being discharged in 1959. After studying in Moscow from 1964 to 1967, Krenz returned to party work, beginning with the youth organization. ered poor. Anti-poverty groups worry that if the change takes hold, those cut off the statistical rolls will find themselves in the cold on federal benefits as well. "Substituting the alternative poverty line for the current poverty line would have major consequences since many federal programs use the poverty line as a basis for eligibility cutoffs," said Robert Greenstein, director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The center is a Washington-based research organization that favors an increase in federal spending on anti-poverty programs. "The net effect of such a change likely would be to make several million low-income people ineligible for these programs and, thus, to implement administratively substantial budget cuts aimed at low-income households." Administration officials Insist that no commitment has been made to changing the poverty computation and that, in any case, revisions in poverty data would not be used as a backdoor means to reduce anti-poverty programs. The U.S. Consumer Price Index was changed across the board in 1983, after years The rate for whites was 10.1 percent and for Hispanics 26.8 percent. . The Census Bureau report noted no statistically significant change in the national poverty rate in the past three years, although there has been an arithmetical decline from 13.6 percent in 1986 and 13.4 percent in 1987. At 13.1 percent, the Incidence of poverty remains higher than in Boys,' Political scandals and resignations over exposed corruption in Washington. Because of the high cost of getting elected, congressmen are increasingly ' prisoners of special-interest funding, Nader said. Nader's Public Citizen group has proposed a campaign reform package that would set limits on spending by congressional candidates but provide public financing of all "serious" candidates. The more than 4,000 political action committees, which overwhelmingly represent corporations, itrade and professional groups and labor "S, Socialism and capitalism can be no more united than fire and water. 11 ERICH HONECKER ' After rising to party leadership in 1971, Honecker adopted a policy of tolerance toward the Protestant Church and pursued a brand of "consumer socialism" that gave his people the Eastern bloc's most-advanced standard of living. But the economy lags far behind that of West Germany and most Western nations. Unlike his Stalinist predecessor, Walter Ul-bricht, Honecker showed interest in detente and improved relations with West Germany. But his repression of political dissent, his role in building the Berlin Wall and his maintenance of fortress-like borders with West Germany signaled the limits of moderation in East Germany. Little is known of Honecker's personal life, except that he divorced his first wife to marry Margot Feist, who now is education minister. Honecker was born Aug. 25, 1912, in Saarland and joined a Communist youth group at age 14. The Nazis imprisoned him in 1935, and he didn't get out until the invading Soviet Red Army arrived a decade later. Honecker caught Ulbricht's eye in the fledgling postwar regime created in 1949 in the Soviet occupation zone of the defeated Third Reich. In 1958, he gained his first powerful government posts, rising to membership in the ruling Politburo and becoming a Central Committee secretary with responsibility for state security. In 1961, Ulbricht assigned Honecker to direct construction of the Berlin Wall. As late as this year, Honecker said the wall would remain as long as the reasons for Its construction persist the loss of crucial labor capacity to the West. Orthodox He has been a member of the Communist ' Party's Central Committee since 1973 and joined the ruling Politburo 10 years later. In recent years, he has been in charge of official youth organizations and internal security matters, while many acknowledged he was being groomed to take over from Honecker. Krenz lives in a heavily guarded compound reserved for high-ranking Communist Party officials at Lake Wandiitz, about nine miles north of Berlin. He has long mirrored Honecker's line on various issues repeating, for example, the long-held assertion that the "imperialist" West poses a threat to communist East Germany. In a profile on Oct. 8, a newspaper in West Germany said Krenz is married and has two children. . . . Like all of East Germany's top leaders, he lives in a heavily guarded compound at Wandlitz, north of Berlin. of criticism that it "overcounted" housing costs by focusing on new home purchases alone. The revised index has been used to compute poverty statistics since. The issue broached in the new report is whether the revised index ought to be applied retroactively to 1967. Butz noted that the poverty rate was not the only statistical result that would be upended if the change were made. Applying the revised Consumer Price Index retroactively also carries major implications for general Income levels most particularly, the assumption that family incomes have been stagnant over the past 1 5 years. Not necessarily so. If the new computational method is used, Butz said, the national average for family income would show an increase of 7.5 percent, in real terms, between 1973 and 1988. Setting the parameters that determine the official poverty threshold is the responsibility of the Office of Management and Budget, Butz said. Butz conceded that they could be changed unilaterally, without congressional authorization, but he stressed that no such action was expected. any year during the 1970s. The percentage of children living in poverty fell for the first time in three years, to 19.7. percent last year from 20.5 percent in 1987. But the report indicates that children continue to account for nearly 40 percent of all the people living below the poverty line. Campaigns unions, would be required fb strike more of a balance in giving to both incumbents and challengers in elections. "I'm by no means a gun-control advocate. But ' this is getting out of hand," Nader said. Nader predicted that the 1990s would be the decade of direct action by consumers, who will engage In group buying of energy and other necessities through skilled negotiators dealing with the giant corporations. Two-way computers and cable networks are other tools that activist consumers will employ, he said. Only a union of consumers, taxpayers and workers can make corporate America responsible and answerable for its actions, Nader said. He took on the U.S. automobile industry in 1965 with his best-selling expose "Unsafe at Any Speed." But it has taken until now for him and Public Citizen, the network of citizen-action groups he organized in 1971, to have air bags installed as standard equipment in American cars.

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