Let’s All Participate in the Census

By now, everyone in America will have received a letter in the mail from the Census Bureau urging you to stand up and be counted, and giving you several very easy ways to do so. I filled out mine on line. It’s about 10 questions. It only took about 5 minutes.

Come on, now. You’re stuck at home. What else do you have to do?

And here’s some very good news: there is NO question regarding your immigration status. Nor can any information be shared with law enforcement. It’s mainly about who lives in your household, how you are related to one another, whether you rent or own, your race, your age, and your gender. It doesn’t ask sensitive information such as your income, your political affiliation, your social security number, or your bank accounts.

Your answers will remain confidential for 72 years. Then it is available for people researching genealogy. I know I’d have been lost without that information when I was researching my family tree.

For family tree purposes, I was kind of disappointed that the long form questionnaire isn’t available as it was in decades past. They used to give a small percentage of households that form to complete, and it gave a lot more details about your life. I could always imagine my relatives, a hundred years from now, looking over that data and being fascinated. But I never got the long form, and this time around they don’t even have it. Pity.

It’s really important for you to participate in the census, because it helps determine your congressional representation, and how federal funding gets allocated. Many politicians would prefer that you do not participate, because they feel that an accurate representation of what this country truly looks like will not be in their best interests. Don’t let them draw an inaccurate picture of this nation! The 99 percent should show that it’s a force to be reckoned with! Represent!

Your participation will indicate which areas of the country need new schools, libraries, clinics and roads. It will determine funding for hospitals, fire departments, and school lunch programs. It helps entrepreneurs decide where to open new restaurants, stores, and factories.

Your participation in the census will positively impact your community for the next decade. And it will keep some poor census taker from having to knock on your door to get the information that you didn’t already provide. Let’s keep each other safe from COVID-19 by saving these folks the trip.

Thank you!

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Civilians vs. Law Enforcement

Recently I set off a heated debate in my world. I mentioned that I was glad to see that felons who have served their time in Florida have finally had their voting rights restored (unless they were convicted of murder or felony sex crimes).

Florida has always been the most restrictive state in terms of felony disenfranchisement. According to this article, in Florida, before Amendment 4 was passed, “one in 10 voting-age adults, and almost one in four African American adults were barred from voting for life because of a previous felony conviction.”

It’s clear to me why this has been the case. Florida is a red state, and it was feared that most people who have been in prison would vote blue. Also, with the disproportionate number of African Americans convicted of crimes, this was a handy way of depriving that minority of the vote, which, let’s face it, is the deep South’s wildest dream. (Now they’ll just have to rely on gerrymandering to get their desired results, and they’re quite good at that.)

I really believe that if we think that prisoners who have done their time have paid their debt to society, then we have no right to prevent them from participating therein. Now, do I expect that most of them will? No. Most of the rest of us don’t vote, unfortunately. Why should they be any different? But they should have the option.

The more roadblocks we place in their paths, the less likely they will be to reenter society with even a modicum of success. We set them up for failure. We make it nearly impossible for them to find decent jobs. We don’t want them as our next door neighbors. We don’t want them voting. Is it any wonder they remain on the fringe of civilization?

When I expressed this opinion, I got a lot of pushback from the people I know who formerly worked in the law enforcement field. The general consensus seemed to be, once a felon, always a felon. They have no inclination to participate in society.

When other friends, civilians like me, said that this might give them some incentive to do so, the law enforcement people opined that they know better. They won’t change.

We civilians piped up that even if only a tiny percentage wanted to change, that’s worth it. That’s when things got hostile. Apparently we shouldn’t form an opinion because we’d never experienced what the law enforcement types have experienced.

Then we pointed out that the law enforcement types wouldn’t, by definition, come into contact with the felons who were trying to change their lives, so their stats are biased.

More anger. Have we personally seen people attempt to change?

Yes. Examples were given.

That response, of course, was ignored. One person from the law enforcement camp  said they used to laugh at all the “do-gooders” who were attempting to change felons.

But we never said we were attempting to change them. We were just glad that they had their rights restored, so that they could make their own choices.

We civilians pointed out that we were sorry that the experience of law enforcement had left them so jaded. The law enforcements fired back that they were realists and that we had no right to weigh in since we didn’t have their experiences. (I half expected them to start calling us Muggles.)

We were then told that we can’t change anyone. They had to change themselves. Again, we pointed out we are trying to give these people the opportunity to change themselves. Again, this went unheard. They just said that they speak facts.

(Actually, no. These are opinions based on experiences, but clearly these opinions are so strongly held that they see them as facts.)

I can understand why one would become bitter and cynical when dealing day in and day out with the very dregs of society. It actually happened to me, too, for a time, in a job where I dealt with a lot of liars and people prone to fraud. That’s why I quit. I didn’t like how it was causing me to view society in general.

I think there’s a reason why law enforcement types often socialize only with one another. The rest of us don’t get it. We Muggles have a completely different worldview.

But we don’t get it because we have the luxury of hanging out with the majority of society, which is either law abiding or has paid its debt and is attempting to move on. How lucky we are. How grateful we should be.

Law enforcement is necessary, and I’m very glad that it exists. But unfortunately I believe that it’s a career path that warps one’s view of society. People in law enforcement have to live in a dark world, and therefore they have a tendency to forget how to see the sun. And it’s a little scary to think that people with warped views of society are in charge of keeping the peace.

I honestly don’t know what the solution is for this. But I’ll still maintain that if even one Florida felon enters the voting booth, I will consider Amendment 4 a smashing success. Congratulations Florida, for finally getting something right. (In my opinion, of course.)

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An Unsolved Abduction: Should Women Feel Safe in Seattle, South Park or Tukwila?

Around 6 pm on Friday, November 24th, 2017, a friend of mine was walking on South Park Bridge, which spans the Duwamish River between Seattle, Tukwila, and South Park, Washington. He noticed a woman on a bicycle, but didn’t really think much of it at first. It’s hard to go anywhere around here without seeing someone on a bicycle. It’s what happens next that I can’t get out of my mind, and it’s keeping my friend up at night.

She was riding north on the east sidewalk, when a man in an old Ford pickup truck slowed down and said something to her. She turned around and headed south, all the while looking over her shoulder in fear. The truck then turned off his lights, did a U-turn and sped back to her location at the top of the bridge.

Why would he turn off his lights? What was he trying to hide? My friend took pictures, below. Unfortunately he didn’t get a good shot of the license plate.

Meanwhile the woman turned around again. The truck did another U-turn and blocked the sidewalk on the northeast corner. The man got out of the truck and ran toward the woman, who was screaming. My friend dialed 911. The truck took off north. The woman and her bike were nowhere to be seen.

Scary, huh? Oh, but it gets a whole lot worse.

The police never called my friend back and they didn’t send a cruiser out to talk to him. The next morning he called the King County Sheriff’s line and was transferred twice to other agencies.

This happens quite a lot when a crime occurs on that bridge. North of the bridge, it’s Seattle to the left and Tukwila to the right. South of it, it’s South Park. Personally, I’ve called 911 on a few occasions, when I’ve seen someone attempt suicide or act erratically, and a lot of time gets wasted while the various cities pass the buck back and forth. “Not our problem. Your problem.” In cases such as this, King County should immediately respond. It doesn’t happen, though. By the time someone decides to take responsibility, often the person is long gone, one way or another. This, in a high crime area full of drugs and gangs. Tukwila, in fact, is ranked the second most dangerous city in the United States for 2017. The year before it had been ranked number one.

So know this: South Park Bridge is like the Wild, Wild West. When the sh** goes down there, you are on your own, ladies.

Anyway, they finally told my friend that “it appears that” an unmarked Seattle police vehicle had been dispatched and that they drove around looking for the truck at 6:28 pm. My friend told them, once again, that he had pictures of the vehicle, and once again he was not given the option to send them to anyone. You know what they said?

They said they would call my friend if they got a report of a missing person in that area, and he could send the pictures then.

Okay, I get that there’s a chain of evidence issue, but seriously? Don’t you think someone might be mildly interested to check out these photos? Anybody? A detective, maybe, since someone was clearly taken against her will?

And if the victim was related to the abductor, who is going to report her missing? The abductor? Seriously? This could be a battered wife or child who is getting the crap beaten out of her in some basement somewhere even as we speak. Is that not worthy of investigation?

Several friends of mine passed it off as a “simple domestic dispute.” Yeah, maybe. But not so simple if you’re on the receiving end. Are you saying she was asking for it? And if so, does that mean she is not worthy of help? She was screaming. Are women chattel around here? Can they be treated any kind of way as long as it’s domestic?

And here’s another possibility. If she lives alone like I do, depending on when the abduction takes place, it could be, literally, 3 days before anyone knows she’s gone. And by then they might not connect it with a 3 day old report. Gee whiz, that inspires confidence. That makes me feel safe as all get out!

Something needs to change around here. First of all, the jurisdiction on South Park Bridge needs to be worked out with all the agencies involved IN ADVANCE so there can be a clear cut, rapid response. Second, someone needs to track down that damned truck and start asking questions. Third, in a case where someone is taken screaming, and a truck with perfectly functional lights turns them off, it’s safe to say that there’s foul play, for future freakin’ reference. DO SOMETHING.

Clearly the citizenry is on its own in this situation. So, here’s the photos my friend took, below. He says the woman was 30ish, white, had brown hair in a pony tail and dark clothing. She was riding on a bike that didn’t have gears, so she probably was local to that area. My friend thought the man was in his late 40’s slim, around 5’8”, wearing dark clothes, short hair, and a dark cap. If you know this truck or these descriptions sound familiar at all to you, please call the police. For all the good it will do this poor woman at this point.

How can we feel safe in this area if a woman can be plucked screaming off the sidewalk and nothing, absolutely nothing, is done about it? Way to go, law enforcement!

Please spread the word about this, on Facebook, on Reddit, wherever. Warn your friends. Complain to the police. This should not just be swept under the rug.

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