Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on November 14, 2003 · 15
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · 15

Detroit, Michigan
Issue Date:
Friday, November 14, 2003
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BRIAN DICKERSON All grown up now, senators crackdown I wonder how many of Michigan's 38 state senators drank a beer before they turned 21? Half of them? Three-quarters? For the record, state Sen. ; Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, in-, sists he's always been a teetotaler, and he may have colleagues who are (or were) . equally abstemious. ' 1 But I'll bet my next pay-; check that a majority of the 24 senators who voted this week to make underage drinking a jailable offense in Michigan had alcohol in their bloodstreams at least once or twice before their 21st birthdays. - Not that legislative hypocrisy is news. After all, a lot of lawmakers had sex when they were teenagers, too and nowadays that can get you a prison cell and a 25-year berth on Michigan's sex offender registry. I've never understood the impulse behind the Legislature's crusade to toughen criminal sanctions for virtually . everything lawmakers got away with when they were kids. Parental paranoia? Latent guilt? But it no longer surprises me when our elected representatives in Lansing vote to criminalize anything. That's what well-meaning people with too much time on their hands do. A deterrent to drinkers? What's surprising is that, in the midst of a budget crisis that has most policymakers grasping for ways to reduce corrections expenses, the state Senate is still looking for new kinds of nonviolent offenders to lock up. State Sen. Tom George, R-Kalamazoo, who sponsored the bill authorizing jail time for those convicted of two or more underage drinking offenses, says his legislation should reduce the state's jail and prison populations in the long run. In addition to toughening . . criminal sanctions for recidi-' vist underage drinkers, the bill adopted by the Senate would , give a free pass to first-time offenders, allowing those who fulfill the terms of their probation to keep their criminal records clean. George says the threat of jail for future offenses will make first-timers less likely to sin again and more likely to comply with any substance abuse treatment program they're assigned to. "Our jails and prisons are already filled with people who have substance-abuse problems," he notes. "If we force young substance-abusers into treatment earlier, they'll be better off in the long run." No refuge in Windsor If it's adopted by his colleagues in the state House and signed by the governor, George's bill would authorize (but not mandate) 30-day jail sentences for minors convicted of blowing a 0.02 blood alcohol level on two or more occasions. Three-time offenders could be jailed for up to 60 days. Even 20-year-olds who drink legally in Canada would be subject to the new penalties if they return to Michigan before their bodies metabolize it. A Michigan Court of Appeals panel had barred prosecution of minors for possession of alcohol consumed in compliance with Canadian law, but George's bill makes the minor's blood-alcohol level the controlling factor, wherever his or her drinking took place. George is one of the state Senate's more thoughtful members, as well as its only physician, and I doubt that he and his colleagues want to lock up every college sophomore who ever sneaked a beer at a frat party. But you have to wonder how many more kids a state that already spends a quarter of its general fund on prisons can afford to threaten with jail just for reminding legislators how crazy they were as teens. . BRIAN DICKERSON'S column appears on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 248-351-3697 or MATT HELMS I DRIVING TODAY Traffic tangles still exist, despite end to road work season, pace 2b FRANKLIN VOTE Residents split on water, pace en IWO 111 win m FRIDAY Nov. 14, 2003 Driving Today Roadwork 2 Local Today 3 Obituaries 5 ON THE WEB phone 313-222-6600 Section B "You deprived me of having ; jXfT" ora nHr ViilHrAn Afav Clrc Vi-jvp l(rlllVJllll-JlWlJL. XlltXJf VJUU 11UIV mercy on your souls. ' HELEN OGNJAN, mother of hunter Brian Ognjan ft i LXr "I really feel bad for you. But it's hard to find remorse when you didn't do it." RAYMOND DITVALL, convicted along with brother Donald Himter saga finally ends Families watch as brothers are imprisoned for life ByHUGHMcDIARMIDJR. free press staff writer MIO Declaring their innocence to the end, Raymond and Donald Duvall were sent to prison until they die for the bludgeoning deaths of two southeast Michigan hunters 18 years ago. Prior to the sentencing Thursday, family members of the victims best friends Brian Ognjan of St. Clair Shores and David Tyll of Troy told the Duvall brothers they had torn their loved ones from them far too soon. "When you wake up in the morning, you will hear Dave's screams," said Shawn Tyll, David's brother. "All we have left are memories. You guys are still alive." The Duvalls were each convicted Oct. 30 of two counts of first-degree murder in the hunters' killings. Investigators say the Duvalls beat them to death in a dark field near Mio in November 1985, after a dispute of unspecified origin. After 18 years of frustrating investigation, police finally uncov ered a witness to the killings who had been afraid to come forward because of the Duvalls' threats and their reputations for ruthtess-ness. - ; ; They showed no emotion during the short court hearing. The sentencing was the bitter- ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE CLASSROOM V-i.lV:l ; jU ' 1 . if. v - "V','" a'V1 V'H W I : S mm., jf fe & y -, -p:-vsm : l ,- ,'. : v m.. ft t,lMMi L i i i ,V ( W : ) - If-1 W ' "iff-'. ! .' r'J I I O A Please see HUNTERS, Page 4B Suits filed in mental health shake-up County agency director looks to return to job By LAURA POTTS FREE PRESS STAFF WR1IIR . j ROMAtN BLANQUARTDetrort Free Press Elaine Boria, a classroom assistant at Apollo Elementary School in Highland, reads with first-graders, from left, Andrew Sikes, Brandon Carpenter and Brandon Markes. Boria is one of many paraprofessionals who may require more schooling to keep their jobs. PUT TO THE TEST Requirements for teachers' assistants to change By LORI HIGGINS FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER School workers who help the neediest students are frustrated, angry and insulted by new demands that force them to prove they are qualified to do their jobs. Either they take a test or earn college credit or they lose their low-paying jobs. "Now, all of a sudden, we're not qualified. It's kind of put us in an awkward position," said Beth Marple, a para-professional, or classroom assistant, at Hunter Elementary School in the Gibraltar School District. The years they've spent assisting teachers, or working with small groups of students who need extra help, won't matter anymore. Nor will the fact that they've taken on increasingly demanding responsibilities while earning an average $6-$8 an hour. By 2006, if they haven't passed a test, earned a 2-year degree or taken two years of college classes, they'll lose their jobs. "I'm 48. The last time I really took a test, Nixon was in office," said Elaine Boria, who has logged six years in Huron Valley Schools. It's part of rules now required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the law President George W. Bush signed in January 2002 that has brought sweeping accountability changes to public schools in America. Locally, the school workers use adjectives such as "insulted" and "disappointed" to describe their feelings about the rules. And those who represent their interests say the workers should Please see LAW, Page 4B The ousted head of Wayne County's mental health agency is asking a federal judge to give her job back, and a showdown is brewing between the City of Detroit and the county administration over the mental health system's future. Patricia Kukula, the interim executive director of the Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health (CMH) agency, was escorted from her Detroit office Wednesday afternoon and has been placed on an indefinite administrative leave while the county seeks to reorganize the agency. On Thursday, both Kukula and the City of Detroit filed injunctions in U.S. District Court, asking Judge Bernard Friedman to return Kukula to the position she has held since 2002. Both cases contend that Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano who appointed Edith Killins as the agency's new chief operating officer, does not have the authority to remove Kukula from the interim position. "It's a power play and it's wrong and it's outside of the county executive's authority," said Dave Manney, communications director for the City of Detroit. Kukula's lawsuit also contends Ficano, Chief Financial Officer Bella Marshall and Wayne County violated her Kukula's right to free speech and the Michigan Whis-tleblower's Protection act. Citing mental anguish, emotional distress, humiliation and lost earn- Please sec AGENCY, Page 4B Church banners stir controversy Opponents don't like them on taxpayers' land By AMBER HUNT MARTIN FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER In purple and gold, they flap above 62,400 motorists each day along Woodward Avenue. Some say they're harmless signs aimed to raise money for a historic site that happens to be a Catholic church. Others say they blur the legal line between church and state. The debate that's ensued since Saturday, when the National Shrine of the Little Flower hung dozens of two-sided banners along the road in Royal Oak, has officials with the Michigan Department of Transportation questioning if they'd approve such banners again. "It's something we'll have to look into," spokesman Rob Morosi said. The banners hang on lampposts that line nearly three-quarters of a mile north and south of 12 Mile. On one side, they feature the words "With all our strength: the Campaign for the National Shrine." On the other side: a giant cross. It's side B that has Faye Scho-field, 49, upset. She saw the ban ners over the weekend while driving from her Royal Oak home. She called the city to complain. "Isn't that public property that you and I and we all pay taxes on?" she asked. "I thought, 'Are they allowed to do that?'" The answer to both questions is yes, Morosi said. The median is owned by the state, so it is public property. But those wanting to put up signs along state rights-of-way can apply for a free permit, he said. They have to meet guidelines for approval. The city or township must ap- Please see SHRINE, Page 4B RASHAUN RUCKERDetrat Free vn The banners along Woodward, a state highway, have a cross on one side and, on the other, a fund-raising appeal for the National Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak.

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