The NEWS with Tim O'Callaghan

Loading...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hey Pa.: Keep your waste in your own backyard

This first published March 9 2009 in the Henderson Home News website, a Community Newspapers of Nevada publication.

Today I was trolling the blogs and newspaper web pages when I happened to read this amusing editorial by Denny Bonavita, editor and publisher of McLean Publishing Co. in west-central Pennsylvania, which includes the Courier-Express in DuBois, Pa.

The “Our Opinion” penned by Mr. Bonavita is titled “If Not Yucca, Where?” and starts out by accusing the president of “pandering to Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate.” It then goes on to throw a little mud in Senator Reid’s face by continuing it “further muddies Obama’s credentials as an effective, bipartisan president. But that’s fine.”

OK Denny, so that’s fine. But the president usually doesn’t pander to the Senate leadership, no matter what side of the aisle they lead. It’s usually the other way.

This is where I begin to find his editorial amusing, if not hypocritical, when he makes a few interesting statements such as this beauty:

“We have just one nagging question.

“The federal government is obligated by law to accept the used reactor fuel from 104 commercial power reactors, but as yet it has no place to put it. The spent fuel, growing at the rate of 2,000 tons a year, is being held in pools and above-ground concrete containers at reactor sites.

“What happens to it?”

That’s easy for me to answer with a rhetorical question, such as, “What have you been doing with your garbage for the past 20 years?”

He follows up with, “What happens to us if terrorists steal it? If earthquakes or tornadoes spread it?”

This editorial reminds me of a neighbor I once had who would pick up his dog’s used dog fuel and toss it over his back wall instead of putting it in his own garbage can.

Anyway, I suggest they start shipping those super-duper, train crash-resistant canisters that were proposed for Yucca Mountain to the nuclear power plants around the country. Perhaps they might start with Pennsylvania.

The editorial goes on: “But no state wants to host the long-term storage site. The Nevada site had been vetted by previous administrations, both Republican and Democratic. Yes, Nevada loses.”

Well Denny I’m afraid that’s where you’re wrong. The political game called congressional seniority is how Nevada got screwed in the first place. We elected a dressmaker over Nevada’s second most powerful senator in history, Howard Cannon.

Today, Harry Reid is the most powerful senator ever to represent the people Nevada.

It has taken people such as Harry Reid, John Ensign, Shelley Berkley, Jon Porter and Dean Heller our congressional delegation of the past several years, to get the nuke screw out of our backside. The odds have always been stacked against Nevada, with only three members of the House of Representatives compared to Pennsylvania’s 22 members of the house.

By the way Denny, how many dogs — oops, I meant nuke plants — do you have in your back yard? Nevada has zero!

One last bit of irony. He wrote, “But we have no way to deal with the waste, which can kill us by the millions.”

OK, let me understand this. Nevada has to give a little bit. Therefore, it’s OK if terrorists try to steal 5-ton casks of your garbage from our backyard, and it’s OK if the garbage can kill millions of Nevadans.

For some reason, I fail to see your logic.

Or perhaps I’m just as big a NIMBY as you.

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the News, can be reached at 990-2656 or tim.oc@vegas.com. He writes a regular column for the Home News.

Bill could prohibit offenders from taking DUI classes online

This first published March 3 2009 in the Henderson Home News website, a Community Newspapers of Nevada publication.


I received a call from Sandy Heverly of Stop DUI asking if I had a copy of a column I had written in 2004 about a DUI Victim Impact Panel I had attended with my then-16-year-old son, Sean.

She is preparing to testify next week on AB 209 before the Committee on Judiciary at the Nevada Legislature.

Apparently NRS 484.3797 allows DUI schools or Victim Impact Panels via the Internet. This bill would reverse that.

The law as it stands is a travesty to me, because it removes the human tragedy and strips the human face off the victim by allowing offenders to escape facing victims in person and sober.

During a telephone conversation, Assemblyman Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, described a scenario to me of the offender sitting home on a Saturday afternoon watching a ball game, sucking down a few brews then losing interest in the game. What to do now? Uh, maybe I'll get DUI School out of the way. So he sits down with a six-pack in his belly to complete his court-ordered class.

Manendo is spot on. DUI offenders should never, never have the opportunity to self-medicate before experiencing a life-changing event such as the Stop DUI Victim Impact Panel. If offenders have an ounce of humanity in their flesh, they will be changed by the panel, even if it is only temporary.

I foresee a bit of challenge to the simple changes in this law, because there is money to be made by Internet companies. Follow the money on this bill or the lobbyist for that matter. A quick visit to the Nevada DMV Web site, dmvnv.com/dlschoolsdui.htm, reveals a boatload of companies that may have something at stake, including the City of Las Vegas Municipal Court, operates it own online classes at www.lasvegasduischool.com and advertises it is the "Exclusive Provider of DUI School for the Las Vegas Municipal Court!"

The Web site also reads, "Following your registration, you study the course materials online and then answer the quiz questions. There is no need to attend a boring class, listen to long lectures or watch repetitive videos. Study at your leisure, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."

Can you imagine this? "Honey, would you stop and grab me a 12-pack for when I sit down to attend my DUI School on the computer?"

The in-person Victim Impact Panel just cannot be given justice that way. To see why, I want to share with you the column Heverly was asking about, originally published June 24, 2004.

Stop DUI rarely leaves a dry eye

"Do you know what this is?" the speaker asked.

"A body bag," someone answered from the audience of 276 driving under the influence offenders.

"That's right, but not for me, Bobby Kintzel," the speaker added. It wasn't for him even after being hit by a sports utility vehicle speeding at 95 mph.

Former Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Robert "Bobby" Kintzel was laying down spike strips on the U.S. 95 to stop a fleeing suspect when he became the target of the suspect he was trying to stop.

Holding up a lesser-sized bag, Kintzel continued his lesson.

"This is a smaller bag for smaller (body) parts and if there is anything left that is unidentifiable, it goes in this," he said. "This is a biohazard bag, but not for me. I am still here."

The ex-trooper doesn't remember anything about the day he died, except what he reads in police reports and what people tell him.

Yes, he did die. Kintzel's life ended that day as far as he is concerned.

He was reborn after lying unresponsive in the intensive care unit for weeks. After nearly three years of rehabilitation, he returned to work in a civilian capacity last February.

In this capacity, the former Marine has declared war against drunken drivers.

"I am in a war, and if you drink and get behind the wheel, you are the enemy," he said.

Kintzel is not against drinking. In fact he candidly talks about popping a beer while sitting down to watch a baseball game on television that was rained out. He had just taken a sip, just a sip.

The game was off and so he thought a movie would be nice. Asking his wife to take him to the video store, she was too busy.

Did he get behind the wheel? Absolutely not.

This man is hero material.

Kintzel was one of three speakers at the monthly STOP DUI Victims Impact Panel at the Flamingo Library in Las Vegas. The panelists each discussed their gut-wrenching experiences. However, as an observer to the court-ordered panel, I was struck by other observations.

I was invited by Sandy Heverly, executive director of Stop DUI, to attend the Victims Impact Panel. She greeted my son and me, giving us a quick outline of how the panel operated and the procedures for entering the panel.

Because of the high volume of Hispanic offenders, the organization has a separate Spanish-speaking panel. This night there were 71 offenders attending the Spanish session.

She said the panel had used interpreters and headphones for Spanish-speaking offenders, however, the emotion of the victims got lost in the translation. The Spanish panel has been a much better success for the courts and STOP DUI, she said.

The first rule of the panel is attendants must be fully sober, which includes absolutely no consumption of alcohol on the day of the panel. If offenders show up with alcohol on their breath, they are asked to leave and come back the following month.

This night was no different for one fellow. He said he only had a sip off his girlfriend's beer earlier in the day.

Too bad, so sad.

He was asked to leave and invited to return next month.

Hopefully, his court date is not before the next panel. If so, he could possibly suffer some sanctions by the court for not meeting its requirements.

We had asked to sit in the front center row to have a full view of the audience and hear comments before the presentation.

I was disappointed in the lack of humanity shown by members of the audience. They were rude, insensitive, loud and obnoxious.

More profanity was spoken here than anywhere I have ever been. Among the lowest of human trash, one could spot the more cultured of society. A doctor dressed in scrubs was the most obvious, although there were several people in business suits.

The audience was representative of every socioeconomic level. It was sickening to listen to the complaining by offenders for having to attend the panel.

Heverly sat fully composed, responding to a barrage of idiotic questions and comments before the panel started.

"Are we going to see a movie?" one young lady asked sarcastically. "And have popcorn."

Heverly never lost her composure, although I was squirming in my seat, biting my tongue.

What she knew that I didn't was there would be a transformation over the next 90 minutes. Laughing and smirking would turn to tears and remorse during this time.

Victims' faces and their stories were riveting. The pain they suffer now and forever is real. It doesn't go away.

Images of dismembered Southern Nevadans forever etched in offenders' memories hopefully will serve as a reminder not to drink and drive.

Emotions high, senses tingling, mind and body on overload, my son and I sat among the silent offenders.

It was deafening.

It was numb and the transformation was complete. No more rude, bragging, insensitive, loud and obnoxious comments. My wish is they never return.

My faith in humanity restored, and I have a new hero to cheer. We should think twice before drinking and driving.

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the News, can be reached at 990-2656 or tim.oc@vegas.com. He writes a regular column for the Home News.