The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 8, 2001 · Page 1
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 1

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, April 8, 2001
Page 1
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Woods on top ^ PAGE ^ CI CMASTERS the SUNDAY APRIL 8, 2001 SALINA, KANSAS Salina Journal Serving Kansas since 1871 $1.50 Deep cuts PAGE D1 Capital Foes Attorneys who face off over death penalty share respect By DAVID CLOUSTON The Salina Journal John Bork and Ron Evans have unique knowledge of how Kansans — hundreds of them — view the death penalty. As lawyers, they use that knowledge to attempt to fairly carry out a system of justice for the most heinous murders. The system since 1994 has challenged Kansas citizens with one of society's most emotionally vexing questions — should one who takes a life pay with his own? Bork, a Kansas assistant attorney general, says his hope is someday society won't need a death penalty. Still, "I think it is a valid reaction to a certain type of crime," he said. "To that extent, I think at the present time it is a necessity And it would follow that we are well-served in having it." Not surprisingly, Evans, chief defense attorney for the state's death penalty defense unit, sees the issue differently "There's no way to make it fair," he said. "There's no way to fine-tune the death penalty to excise the human element. Much different results are obtained depending on who the attorneys are and what the jury pool is like." Bork has been lead counsel in each of the four capital murder cases tried by the attorney general's office. Evans has been on the defense team in two of those trials and has worked on several other cases that were resolved without a trial. The two lawyers squared off in Saline County in January for the trial of Jeffery Hebert, which was moved from Clay County Hebert was tried and convicted for shooting to death a Clay County sheriff's TOM DORSEY / The Salina Journal Assistant Attorney General John Bork (left), the state's chief prosecutor for death-penalty cases, and attorney Ron Evans, chief of the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit, squared off earlier this year in a Saline County courtroom in the case of Jeffery Hebert, who was convicted of killing a Clay County sheriff's deputy. T STATE BUDGET Woes took time to buUd Some blame tax cuts for current problems; others, high gas bills By JOHN HANNA The Associaled Press deputy. But he avoided the death penalty and was sentenced March 13 to life in prison without eligibility for parole for at least 60 years. Cautious Kansans Kansans' views on executions come into play each time Bork and Evans begin to select jurors in a capital- murder case. Their job is to seek those who can separate their capital-punishment views and carry out the law impartially Bork and Evans have a similar perspective on opin­ ions of the death penalty because of those interviews. Kansans they have questioned, they say, have great concern for a cautious approach when a life is at stake. "It's easier to be for (capital punishment) in the abstract. When you think about imposing it yourself, it doesn't happen a whole lot, but some people then sort of back off strongly supporting it. You don't see much where people flip-flop completely," Bork said. "I don't sense the same hunger for the death penalty in Kansas that I do south of here," said Evans, who formerly defended capital-punishment cases in Oklahoma. "I do think the death penalty will be in use in Oklahoma and Texas as long as the U.S. Supreme Court allows the death penalty to exist." Kansas reinstituted capital punishment in 1994 when then-Gov. Joan Finney took the controversial step of letting a bill pass into law without her signature, declaring the will of the people should prevail. Debate over the is­ sue has never subsided, even though the state has yet to carry out a single execution. "There're so many.factors that go into a way a person thinks about the death penalty," Bork said. "When you look at national statistics, there are differences between high income and low income. There are racial differences. There are religious differences. Who knows (why) someone is opposed or in favor. It's difficult to determine." See PENALTY, Page A4 TOPEKA — Legislators differ on the causes, but there is broad agreement that budget problems they now must fix were years in the making. Some blame aggressive tax- cutting during Gov Bill Graves' first term, especially in 1998, the year he won re-election. Others argue that Graves and the Legislature were unable to restrain spending enough in recent years. They attribute some of the problem to high natural gas prices that may have cut into consumer spending. And some mention the recent volatility of the stock market. In January, Graves proposed a relatively generous budget for what already was supposed to be a tight year, and legislators followed it closely in drafting their own spending recommendations for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The proposal would increase spending on public schools, kept up with a higher demand for social services, honored a promise to university faculty for better salaries and gave civU service workers a 3 percent raise. But Rep. Rocky Nichols, Topeka, said the Republican governor's budget was as vulnerable as a tower of playing cards. "Any one change, and the entire thing implodes on itself," said Nichols, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. See BUDGET, Page A2 • CENSUS 2000 Hispanics, blacks look to the future Blacks may not be the nation's premier minority group for long By The Associated Press WASHINGTON — The census finding that Hispanics now rival blacks as the nation's leading minority group offers blacks a potential alliance with a powerful partner on issues such as fair housing and racial profiling. Both sides agree that on the national level, the lines of communication between advocacy groups will grow stronger in the future. Activists point to the neighborhoods and towns where the Hispanic population is booming as the area where the most work must be done. The census showed there were 35.3 million Hispanics in 2000 and between 33.9 million and 35.4 million non-Hispanic blacks. Black leaders say they must strengthen bonds with their Latino counterparts — and vice versa — to ensure a united front on their shared concerns. Combined, they now make up roughly a quarter of the country's 281 million people. "For all of us, we can now focus more sharply on the analysis of the problems that we share, so we can craft a much more sharply focused solution," said Hilary Shelton, director of the Washington bureau of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "We have some cultural and racial differences ... but even the subtle difference between these two groups need to be crafted together," Shelton said. The Hispanic population caught up with non-Hispanic blacks faster than Census Bureau experts had projected. One forecast predicted that would not happen until at least July 2002. Blacks still have more political clout nationally, though there are growing pockets of Hispanic strength, particularly in Texas and California, said Eric Rodriguez, director of the economic mobility project for the National Council of La Raza, a Latino advocacy organization. Overall, the country's Hispanic population jumped 58 percent the past decade, while the non-Hispanic black population increased between 16 percent and 21 percent. • DOWNED SPY PLANE Administration affirms position But China demands apology; negotiations continue to go forward By The Associated Press WASHINGTON — The Bush administration stood firm Saturday by its earlier statements that it regretted the collision of a Chinese fighter plane and a U.S. spy plane. A Chinese leader renewed Beijing's demand for an apology. Amid the public standoff, negotiations between the two countries for the release of the 24 U.S. crew members continued behind the scenes a week after the incident. Also, U.S. diplomats met for a third time with the Americans on China's Hainan island. "The crew is ... in very high spirits. They understand the circumstances under which they are here," said U.S. Embassy military attache. Army Brig. Gen. Neal Sealock, one of two diplomats to see the crew. "They are looking forward to going home. They do offer that they very much appreciate the e-mails that they've been allowed to receive from home." Sealock reported on his meeting in a call to Camp David, the presidential retreat where Bush was spending the weekend with his wife, Laura, The Associated Press A Chinese police officer looks at his watch after clearing the journalists to the side of the road Saturday outside the U.S. embassy in Beijing. and his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. Rice relayed Sealock's report that the Americans were "in very good spirits" and grateful for the e-mails they have received, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. Sealock also conveyed Bush's greetings to the crew, Fleischer said. U.S. officials hoped a letter under review by President Bush and Chinese President Jiang Zemin could lead to a resolution of the spy plane dispute. The letter, currently in draft form, would express regrets for the collision last Sunday between the plane and a Chinese jet fighter and arrange for the two sides to exchange their views of the incident. It also would clear the way for release of members of the Navy EP-3E Aries II reconnaissance plane. "Our position is unchanged," Mary Ellen Countryman, spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said when asked if an apology from the United States was • Background explored on U.S.-Chinaplane incident/ Page A2 still possible. Fleischer later echoed that sentiment and said progress was being made in the sensitive talks. China's top foreign affairs official, Vice Premier Qian Qichen, said in a letter Saturday to Secretary of State Colin Powell that U.S. statements of regret about the incident "so far are still unacceptable" to Beijing and an apology is required. At the same time, China's defense minister. Gen. Chi Haotian, said the People's Liberation Army will not let Washington "shirk responsibility" The standoff began April 1 after the U.S. plane made an emergency landing on Hainan island in the South China Sea after an in-flight collision with a Chinese fighter jet. The Chinese pilot is missing. Countryman said a full assessment of what happened in the accident would come after a thorough debriefing of crew members. "We can't know with precision what happened up there until we are able to speak with See CHINA, Page A2 WEATHER High: 82 Low: 46 Mostly sunny vnth a southwest wind 20 to 30 mph. Clear tonight. PAGE A^ A helicopter carrying a team searching for American MIAs from the Vietnam War crashed into a mountain, killing at least 16 people. PAGE A5 The government is cutting off irrigation water to hundreds of farmers in a basin along the Oregon- Califomia border to help fish survive. INSIDE Classified / F1 Consumer / E4 Crossword / D6 Deaths / B3 Great Plains / B1 Life /DI Money / E1 Sports / 01 Weather /B6 Viewpoints / A7

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