Saturday, June 20, 2009


I'm suspicious.

The way this whole Gregory Rold death was handled, how could one NOT be suspicious. The amount of attention paid to this case by the media in Oregon was significantly less than several other cases where no one died. And... they STILL can't even agree on his age!

Yesterday, the Marion County Grand Jury found that the Police (4) didn't cause his death, but that he basically died of a bad heart with obesity as a contributing factor. If you have to fight off 4 police officers who are tasering and beating you with batons, I suppose that would cause stress to a weakened system. My question is why they felt the need to go so hard on a man suspected of merely TRESPASSING??

They also have dropped the conversation of disability when writing about Gregory. That would make him a part of 2 protected classes...being black, and having either a developmental disability or mental illness. It would also require the officers involved to have ALREADY been trained on best practice for dealing with such people. Were they?

I hope this whole thing isn't over. I hope community members start asking questions beyond the obvious. I hope that more is revealed in a civil suit. My suspicions tell me otherwise.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Yeah... Right...

So... now it seems like Bob Joondeph (from Disability Rights Oregon) is attempting to distance himself from his vaulted testimony given to the Oregon Legislature around closing the School For the Blind. The DRO blog states that he wonders... " Are we, as Michael suggests, hurting children in pursuit of a ideal that cannot be realized? I can't adopt that viewpoint without conceding the futility of achieving a truly inclusive society. Defending both OSB students and our movement toward integration are not incompatible goals."

My question is... "And how exactly did you "defend" the OSB students?" All I saw from Bob was testimony about the reasons to close the school, with virtually nothing about the students or their families wishes. If he was really caring about "achieving a truly inclusive society" as he claims, he would have made sure that a developmentally disabled woman with stage 3 cancer recieved the treatment she required; same as a non-disabled person. Did he? No! He sat back and watched while Multnomah County's best and brightest simply allowed her to expire. But that's Bob for you.

Friday, June 12, 2009

HB 2442

This is a press release from out of Salem this morning. Only the test of time will show if it worked or not.


June 12, 2009

House Votes to Protect Vulnerable Oregonians from Abuse

HB 2442 would make sweeping changes to adult protective services in Oregon

SALEM – Oregonians with developmental disabilities will have substantial new protections from abuse, under a bill passed by the Oregon House of Representatives today. HB 2442, sponsored by Rep. Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis) and Rep. Carolyn Tomei (D-Milwaukee), makes sweeping changes to adult protective services in Oregon. Passage of the bill was a top priority for House Democrats this session.

“Crimes against people with disabilities are everyone’s business,” said Gelser. “This bill is an important first step towards protecting the safety of our most vulnerable neighbors. Everyone deserves to be safe in their own home, and people with developmental disabilities should be no exception.”

In 2007, the Oregonian began profiling the significant problem of abuse and neglect of adults with developmental disabilities in state paid care. They reported that one in five adults with developmental disabilities had been victims of significant abuse in the previous seven years, many of them on multiple occasions. These abuses included sexual assault, physical assault and financial exploitation. Although these allegations of abuse were substantiated and frequently rose to the level of a crime, only about 15% of these cases were investigated by the public safety system.

“Many of our vulnerable who live in care facilities never receive a visitor, making them especially susceptible to abuse, fraud or other crimes,” said Tomei. “This bill goes a long way to making sure vulnerable Oregonians are protected.”

The bill will standardize abuse investigations, increase collaboration between the Department of Human Services and local law enforcement agencies, and allow for immediate notification of all residents of a facility when a substantiated abuse has occurred. The bill will also preclude individuals with felony convictions and crimes against vulnerable people from being hired as direct care providers. For the first time in decades, fines and civil penalties for substantiated abuse will be increased and redirected into a fund to improve training of care providers.

“Today, a fine for egregious abuse can be as low as $50—less than the penalty for harming an animal or parking illegally. That is outrageous,” said Gelser. “This bill establishes a minimum civil penalty of $2500 for cases of substantiated abuse that involve rape, sexual assault, serious physical injury or result in the death of the victim.”

The bill was the result of a large interim working group that included self advocates, providers, law enforcement, the Department of Justice, the Department of Human Services, defense attorneys and others.

“Today is an important day for vulnerable Oregonians. By passing this bill, we affirm that we value the safety and dignity of every Oregonian, and that we will hold those who abuse adults with disabilities accountable in the civil and criminal justice system,” said Gelser. “As a result, vulnerable adults will be safer in their homes and their communities.”

House Democrats have made protecting seniors and our most vulnerable citizens from financial scams, fraud and sexual abuse by improved investigative processes, better court access and tougher penalties a top priority this session. HB 2442 is a cornerstone of that effort and is part of the House Democrats’ 2009 Roadmap for Oregon’s Future.

HB 2442 now moves to the Senate.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Unless I Go Away, This Won't Either

Here in Oregon, we're good at wrapping things up quickly and efficiently.

Couldn't have been more than a week ago, where a white woman sliced into another white woman's stomach in an attempt to "steal" her unborn baby. That's not only resolved, but there's already a law going into effect to prosecute such a crime as 2 seperate murders. That's what I call being on the ball.

Then there's the case from

Sunday, June 07, 2009

When Justice Fails

I ran into this story this morning out of Indiana. It demonstrates what happens when justice fails...

June 7, 2009

By Jerry Davich, Post-Tribune columnist

James Writt simply wanted a box of Hamburger Helper for dinner. The 19-year-old Griffith teen left home at dusk on April 15, 2008, and walked toward the grocery store where he worked as a stock boy. Writt, unable to drive a car due to developmental disabilities, walked everywhere in his neighborhood, including to work each day.

On this evening, as he walked 35th Avenue toward the Mansards apartment complex, a group of 10 or so teens approached him. One of them got in his face and asked for money. Another snuck up behind him carrying a barbell pipe. The rest watched.

Seconds later, the teen with the barbell -- allegedly Bryon Hill, police say -- struck Writt in the head with the makeshift weapon. The blow sliced open Writt's scalp and fractured his skull.

Writt blacked out and collapsed in the middle of the road, just west of Arbogast Street. Hill allegedly kept striking Writt's head, again and again and again. Blood oozed from Writt's head, covering his face and clothes, even leaving a puddle on the street.

A motorist happened to drive by, and the group of teens fled every which way. Not one of them stopped to check on Writt. Not one of them called 911 to get him help. Not one of them cared whether he lived or died.

Writt, nearly unconscious, managed to get up and stagger back home a few blocks away. In the dark and without his glasses, only a trail of blood accompanied him home.

Writt was always a great kid, just different from other kids at school, in his neighborhood, or pretty much anywhere else.

He's had medical problems since birth, including the need for glasses at 18 months old and tubes in his ears for chronic ear infections. In the sixth grade he was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a developmental disability that falls in the autism spectrum.

Those afflicted with the recently recognized neurological disorder often have difficulty understanding what those around them think and feel. Because of this, they often act strangely in social situations, or do things that may appear odd.

"In hindsight, now that I know what some of the signs of autism are, I can see he's always had it," explained his mother, Mary Wright.

In short, he lives with certain limitations, making him appear odd or quirky to others, including kids who can be very cruel about such differences. At school, he was routinely teased and often felt lonely, especially in a classroom of students.

He tried inviting fellow classmates to birthday parties. Not one of them ever showed up. So he withdrew and walked away. He's been walking ever since, just about everywhere.

"It makes him feel independent and free," Wright noted.

'Completely covered in blood'
According to Griffith Police Department reports, several teens were detained and questioned regarding the attack. All the teens were black males between the ages of 13 and 20, with possible gang affiliations.

"(Writt's) face and head were completely covered in blood," the initial police report stated. "He was later transported to Munster Community Hospital for treatment."

There, Writt spent 10 days in the intensive care unit, most days in excruciating pain. He still suffers headaches and migraines.

Back in Griffith near Writt's home, police began investigating the attack. They found the crime scene in the street, Writt's trail of blood home and, several days later, the silver and black barbell weapon, located about 50 feet in the woods along 35th Avenue.

The day after the attack, Bryon Hill was arrested on other charges, and he told officers he knew who attacked Writt. Twelve days later, while in Lake County Jail, Hill told detectives that he witnessed the attack against Writt, but he didn't take part in it.

A few days later, another suspect, Jonathan Wise, was arrested on other charges and he too told police he had information about the attack. Wise claimed that Hill was the guy who attacked Writt, and he had other friends who could confirm it.

Sure enough, they confirmed that Hill was the one who assaulted Writt. Five weeks after the attack, police showed Hill painfully graphic photos of Writt's blood-splattered injuries and he appeared "physically shaken" by them.

"Hill only looked at part of one page and then hid his head in his arm or shirt," the report states.

Weeks later, police presented the case against Hill to the Lake County Prosecutors Office.

"We thought they had the right guy, and he would be convicted for his crime," Wright said.

She was wrong.

Last month, Writt was brave enough to testify twice in his trial against Hill. But it didn't matter. Hill was found not guilty by a jury.

Writt's mother believes Hill's public defender discredited the other teenage witnesses and twisted the logistical accounts of the crime. She also still believes Hill did the actual beating and he is guilty as sin.

Hill, I'm told, is now out of jail and possibly moving to Texas.

The other suspect, Jonathan Wise, has been charged in the attack. He was arrested May 21 in Lansing and is now in Lake County Jail awaiting another interview with Griffith police.

"We are disappointed in the outcome of the trial, but we are still actively pursuing this case," Griffith Police Chief Ron Kottka said.

Last week, Writt and his mother returned to the scene. They allowed me to shadow them down 35th Avenue as they walked to the site of the beating, a site Writt has been avoiding.

As we walked, a motorist stopped to ask directions. Writt, being his usual friendly self, didn't hesitate to help the man even though he may have been facing his biggest fear a couple blocks away.

Writt, a soft-spoken man who still has an indentation in his head from the attack, didn't say much as his mother recited in detail what took place that night.

Why, I asked Writt, are you returning here now? "I want to get over it and be able to walk through here again," he replied.

In many ways, he has gotten over the attack. It's his mother who is still being assaulted emotionally, as only a protective, nurturing mother could.

On May 9, I received an e-mail from Wright. After months of deliberation over contacting me for a column, Hill's infuriating verdict of "not guilty" forced her decision.

"I want people to know what happened, and maybe they can help me understand what's wrong with our world," she told me.

Earlier that week, Wright sat in courtroom and listened to three of Hill's "friends" coldly recount how they watched Hill repeatedly beat her son unconscious with a bar. She watched as they yawned, slouched and disrespected the courtroom proceedings.

She strained to grasp how they could simply leave her boy in the middle of a dark street, in a puddle of blood, and lifeless, as cars drove past.

"They didn't call 911. They simply ran off, worried only about themselves," she told me.

One of the teens testified that he thought James was dead.

"How did he sleep that night?" Wright asked.

Another teen testified that James' blood was everywhere.

"Did he give it a second thought?" Wright asked.

The teens reportedly told their families about the attack, yet no one ever called Wright to check on James' condition or offer empathy. No one ever asked James' siblings at school what happened to him. No one ever visited the hospital. Nothing.

"Please help me understand what's wrong with people?" Wright asked as we walked down 35th Avenue. "Can you find the answer for me? Can you ask your readers for me?"

So there you have it. One brutal attack against a region man. Another brutal attack against humanity. And yet one more mother screaming in the wind without a voice.

Maybe someone has new evidence about this case. Maybe someone has something on Hill or Wise. Maybe someone has those answers for Wright.

One thing is for sure. This is not solely about James Writt and the night of April 15, 2008. This is about the world in which we live, and which we struggle to understand.

Lastly, I'm told that James lost his grocery store job and is looking for a new one, possibly involving computer work, his passion. If anyone is interested in giving him a shot, let me know.

Society as a whole may have let him down, but maybe together we can help pick him up off that dark, blood-stained street.

Anonymous Assistance

Just when I thought I wouldn't receive any help in understanding what's going on in the Gregory Rold case, I got this comment, sent anonymously to my post titled "Somebody Help Me".

"gregory was not black. he was from micronesia and he was mentally ill. gregory was a loving man but the mind of a child. sometimes he was not easy to be around but he didnt deserve to die. he was laid to rest yesterday. we will not let this situation and senseless killing go away. i have been with the family since they came to the united states and i will continue to help them get justice."

As I've mentioned several times, I don't post "anonymous" comments on my blog, but thought this was interesting enough to post about myself. I'm aware that Gregory was from the Marshall Islands, but the police probably saw him as black. And if he had the "mind of a child", I still contend that he probably had a developmental disability. If he was laid to rest yesterday, the investigation must have been completed (I hope...). Sooo...where's the info. on that??

Friday, June 05, 2009

Little People Big Wallet

Every once in a while I tune in to watch "Little People Big World" on the Discovery Channel. Amy Roloff says in the intro. that they just want to have the same life everyone else does. I don't buy that for a second.

Each episode has the family either doing major remodels to their home or taking some kind of exotic trip. NO ONE else I know has the luxury of living in such a fashion, and don't tell me they're rich because of selling step stools to hotels and pumpkins. There is nothing normal about these folks, and I'm not talking about dwarfism.

They seem to be sending out the wrong message. I'd much rather watch what happens in the lives of real people with real challenges.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Let's Do It!

if you're someone who reads this blog with any kind of regularity, you probably care about fairness, justice, civil rights, and equity. If that's the case for you, and you live in Oregon, here's a chance to prove it. I just received this from the Oregon Center for Public Policy. I'll be there...will you??

Take Part in Sunday's United for Oregon March
For too long, Oregon has asked low- and middle-income families to sacrifice more
than those who can most afford it. In the current tough times, lawmakers are proposing
large budget cuts that would further harm low- and middle-income Oregonians, those
most hurt by the economic crisis.
It's time for corporations and wealthy Oregonians to pay their fair share.
Make your voice heard and demand better!

Date: Sunday, June 7
Time: 11:30 a.m.
Place: Downtown Portland. March begins at the Eastbank Esplanade (near OMSI between
SE Main and Taylor), ends at Terry Schrunk Plaza for a rally at 2:00 p.m. (SW 3rd
and Madison).
Event organizers include Oregon PTA, KBOO 90.7, SEIU 503, Jobs With Justice, Children
First For Oregon, AARP, Oregon Education Association, Our Oregon, Keep Oregon Working

Monday, June 01, 2009

Somebody Help Me

I've not followed a murder investigation (like this one) before. I admit it... I'm in over my head here. I think what I need is someone to help me understand what is, or might be going on. Any commentary that might fit that need is more than welcomed.

It's been 9 days since Gregory Rold died at the hands of 4 Salem Police Officers, who tased him and beat him with batons until he lost consciousness. Shortly after, he died at the Salem Hospital. The officers were placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the state police.

Seems to me interviews should have taken place by now. The 4 officers, Gregory's mom, hospital staff, EMS, and other people who either saw or heard what happened. How long should that take? Am I just too impatient? Does anyone else see this as going too slowly? I've contacted the Chair of the Salem Human Rights Commision and the Attorney General's office. They are both aware of what the story is. Shouldn't they be able to move this investigation along?

Whatever the case may be, I have to wonder if this is moving so slowly because Gregory was black, there were 4 policemen involved, or they've since discovered Gregory was developmentally disabled. You can call me paranoid or a pain in the ass, this whole thing doesn't make sense to me.

Tax The Wealthy

I'm liking what I'm seeing lately. Some folks are speaking out about how corporations and wealthy people in general are not paying their fair share of taxes here in Oregon. I've been thinking and writing about this for some time, myself. If Capitalism truly worked these days, our state and country would be in much better shape than it currently is. As the wealth divide continues to grow, so do the voices of the have-nots. Reminds me of "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times" if you catch my drift.

Here's a few quotes from folks at the Oregon Center For Public Policy...

"I’m talking about a change in the political climate in Oregon that would melt lawmakers’ reluctance to reform our corporate tax system — change that would fulfill Oregonians’ desire to see large corporations doing business here pay their fair share in taxes."

"The number of large profitable corporations paying the minimum tax (almost two out of three) is the miners’ canary of a broken tax system. More than 5,000 profitable corporations operating in Oregon paid no income taxes in 2006 beyond the $10 minimum, and 31 of those freeloaders had more than $1 million in Oregon taxable income." Chuck Sheketoff, their director

"For too long, Oregon has asked low- and middle-income families to sacrifice more than those who can most afford it. And when times get tough, some lawmakers propose a sales tax or a no-new-revenue, all-cuts budget, both of which are fundamentally regressive and hit low-income households hardest. That isn't right."

"What would happen if the Legislature chose to apply a 12 percent bracket to those making $250,000 or more? The bulk of the tax increase would apply to those in the top 1 percent of the income scale. To enter this rarified level, you must make in excess of $385,000 a year. For the average member of the group, the yearly income tops $1 million. For those members, the new 12 percent tax bracket means they would contribute about $16,530 more each year on average -- less than their average weekly paycheck." Joe Rodriguez, Ken Lewis and Mary Fellows, board members

Right on! (I say up it to 20%)Let's keep talking! Let's keep beating the drum! Let's fix this!