Brooklyn Kolessar

When It Rains, It Pours: The News Week in Review


Nature has a morbid sense of humor. As Americans have been gridlocked, grumpy, and childish with each other over the last year over politics and the upcoming election, Nature was just bidding its time. It waited until the very last moment to unleash a torrent of destruction all over the East Coast. Hurricane Sandy has ravaged many states and “could cause about $20 billion in property damages and between $10 billion and $30 billion in lost business…If the damages hit $50 billion, it would make Sandy the second-costliest U.S. storm after Katrina in 2005. Katrina’s overall costs were $108 billion.” [1]

The death toll in the U.S. from Superstorm Sandy neared 100 victims on Friday.

Power is out in many places, including Canada. “Power outages in New Jersey and Pennsylvania have ‘shattered records’ with over 3 million without power…Three nuclear reactors were shut down and a fourth facility is on alert because of the storm. Sandy has even left 145,000 Canadians without power.” [2] The death toll is rising: “The death toll in the U.S. from Superstorm Sandy neared 100 victims on Friday.” [3]

It seems that Nature was hoping, amidst all our squabbling, to remind us of the important things in life — our loved ones, the fragility of existence, our sense of humanity, and the importance of rising above daily disagreements and treating one another with respect, compassion, and love. But Nature forgot how ingenious humans can be when it comes to ignoring the important things in life and carrying on with our silliness.

The headlines locally reveal that very silliness. As millions were out of power and starving on the other side of the country, we had our own moments that made us say, “Oops!” Literally, in fact, when someone hit a 12-year-old girl with a car and then drove off: “A 12-year-old girl was hit by a car a week ago while walking in a crosswalk – and the driver’s reaction has many residents concerned. ‘They rolled down the window and said “Oops,” and they drove off,’ Brooklyn Kolessar told KVAL News. ‘The bruising in her ribs did make it more complicated to breathe at night and she would have a lot of pain,’ said Carla Kolessar, Brooklyn’s mother.” [4]

A Eugene man was ordered to pay more than $1.5 million in restitution after pleading guilty to negligently exposing Sweet Home residents to asbestos particles during his 2007 demolition of buildings at an old sawmill site.

Hitting a kid with a car and then running away from the crime is certainly an “oops” moment. Similarly “oops”-ish is exposing other people to asbestos particles. “A Eugene man was ordered to pay more than $1.5 million in restitution and sentenced to five months of home detention Wednesday after pleading guilty to negligently exposing Sweet Home residents to asbestos particles during his 2007 demolition of buildings at an old sawmill site.” [5]

Of course, if that Eugene man had been sentenced to jail in Lane County, he might have received a “Get Out of Jail Free” card: “Low revenues from the U.S. Marshals Service is forcing the Lane County Sheriff’s Office to make another cut to the jail, reducing the number of beds, once again, for local offenders…The Sheriff’s Office will close another section of the jail by December 1st, 2012 because it’s not getting as much money as it expected from the U.S. Marshals Service.” [6]

It can hard when you do not get as much money as you were hoping for. But that does not mean you should stab people at fast food establishments. And unless you are really into puns, please do not jack people at Jack in the Box: “Authorities are investigating a stabbing that happened near Jack in the Box on 6th Street around 8 p.m. on Friday. According to Eugene Police, the man made his way into the fast food chain after being attacked. Officers on scene said they are not sure of exactly where the stabbing happened, but an investigation is under way. The suspect is still on the loose.” [7]

Speaking of loose: Sometimes you need to loosen up your marriage and rekindle the fire that used to be there. But according to a local therapist, loosening up the marriage might actually involve tightening, like clamps and belts and such: “Stephanie Steele is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Eugene. She said couples are coming to her with a copy of [50 Shades of Grey] in hand. ‘Surprisingly, I have had couples that have actually been reading it together,’ she said. ‘The most beneficial results are when they read it out loud to each other, which I find very interesting.’ Steele has read all three novels. Her biggest criticism of the books: how James generalizes the BDSM subculture…Steele said the real takeaway from ’50 Shades’ is that any relationship needs communication. The two main characters in the book talk a lot about what they’re comfortable with – and what they are not comfortable with.” [8]

Most people, it is safe to say, are not comfortable with aggressive door-to-door sales people. Especially ones that try to force their way into your house. “A fast-talking young woman may be part of a team of crooks employing an ‘un­usually aggressive’ sales pitch to finagle their way into potential victims’ homes, Eugene police Sgt. Lisa Barrong said Thursday. Police in Eugene have received at least a dozen recent complaints about pushy strangers arriving at homes to hawk carpet cleaning products…What’s particularly concerning to police is that in a few instances, the uninvited visitors have barged into local residents’ homes after being greeted at the front door, then commented about items inside a house or questioned people about their daily schedules, Barrong said.” [9]

In general, it is not good when people barge into other people’s homes. Unless the people barging are the police and the homes are homes that have lots of meth. “Narcotics detectives seized 52 pounds of meth and took out a drug cartel moving pounds of meth through Lane and Douglas counties, the Lane County Interagency Narcotics Team said. Law enforcement executed search warrants at addresses in Cottage Grove, Springfield, Eugene and Roseburg on Sunday as part of a multi-month long investigation. Authorities seized approximately 52 pounds of crystal methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $1,000,000.” [10]

Stephanie Steele, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Eugene, says couples are coming to her with a copy of “50 Shades of Grey” in hand.

On the one hand, meth has a street value. On the other hand, votes do not. But since it is an election year, people are willing to do illegal things to get votes, much as addicts are willing to do illegal things for meth. So it came as no surprise this week to hear that, “The Oregon Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into possible ballot tampering at the Clackamas County Elections Office. ‘We can confirm we are currently investigating criminal felony violations of Oregon’s elections laws, which allegedly took place in Clackamas County and allegedly involved a temporary county elections employee tampering with cast ballots,’ said Jeff Manning, spokesman for the Department of Justice.” [11]

Speaking of abusing a position of power: “Police arrested a University of Oregon employee on campus Thursday on charges accusing him of sexually abusing at least 3 girls between the ages of 6 and 12…The suspect, a building manager with the UO’s College of Education, has been placed on administrative leave, the University said.” [12]

After a week filled with hurricanes, politics, politicians making hurricanes political, not to mention hit-and-runs and sexual abuse, you might just want to grab a beer and check out. That might not be the noblest solution, but if it is your solution, you are in luck: “A brewery district is beginning to bubble up in Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood, and now potential tax breaks, backed by city and county officials, are adding yeast to the mix. The City Council and Lane County commissioners are supporting a proposal to expand the west Eugene enterprise zone, which already includes Ninkasi Brewing Co., to also take in property that Hop Valley Brewing Co. and Oakshire Brewing have secured in the Whiteaker.” [13]

Or you could donate to the Red Cross.