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Howard B. Owens's blog

Monday, May 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm

LAT piece of governments and unions

post by Howard B. Owens in Blogs, unions

My friend Mickey Kaus (well, really a friend of friends, but we've met) is a Democrat and running for the U.S. Senate in California (all of us nerd writers are fascinated when one of our own takes a leap into politics, but this is quite a leap).

He has an interesting piece in the LA Times today saying Democrats need to start learning to say no to government employee unions.

Government unions are even more problematic (and as private sector unions have failed in the marketplace, government unions are increasingly dominant). If there are limits on what private unions can demand — when they win too much, as we've seen, their employers tend to disappear — there is no such limit on what government unions can demand. They just have to get the politicians to raise your taxes to pay for it, and by funding the Democratic machine they acquire just the politicians they need.

He says that with love, of course.  As long as I've known Mickey -- about 7 years -- he's been a Democrat.  He's just saying the party needs to change with the times.

Monday, May 3, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Doll's defense renews motions to suppress evidence before jury selection

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, corfu, crime, pembroke, scott doll

BATAVIA, NY -- Scott Doll's defense attorneys renewed motions today, prior to jury selection in his murder trial, to suppress key evidence and some of the statements he made during the initial investigation into the death of Joseph Benaquist.

Jury selection is expected to take as long as three days, with groups of 40 people being called in today, tomorrow and Wednesday, in the hopes of finding 12 impartial jurors and four to six alternates.

Daniel Killelea, who is assisting defense attorney Paul Cambria, argued this morning that introducing as evidence the disputed ownership of two cars in the case would unfairly prejudice the jury without establishing sufficient value to prove the murder charge.

The cars are a 2006 Chevy Malibu and 2008 Pontiac G6.

There is some question as to how Doll came into possession of the Malibu, which apparently was owned, at least at one time, by Benaquist, and there's also a question about who paid for the G6 and to what purpose.

Benaquist and Doll were apparently partners in a used car business.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said he intends to show that Doll forged the title on the Malibu so he could sell it to a financing company in Buffalo.

Killelea's position is that there can't be any proof that Doll didn't obtain title to the Malibu legitimately.

He argued that presenting the status of the Malibu as evidence would unfairly prejudice the jury that he committed an uncharged crime, fraud.

As for the G6, the prosecution contends that Benaquist bought the car for himself -- though using the dealership license for SF Enterprises -- and gave Doll $10,000 as a down payment on the $13,300 car, but that the money never reached the financing company.

According to Killelea, there is insufficient evidence that the transaction wasn't for the company and the implication otherwise would prejudice the jury.

Friedman said the two cars, and the ownership dispute is key to the case.

"We anticipate that it will be established that it was these very cars that led to the murder of Joseph Benaquist," Friedman said.

On his other motion, Killelea said that statements made by Doll the night of the alleged murder cannot be admitted because he had asked for an attorney.

The prosecution contends that under the "emergency doctrine," police can try to obtain relevant information that needs to be known immediately and can continue questioning or taking statements even after a suspect has asked for an attorney.

Killelea cited at least three cases that say Doll was entitled to an attorney. But Assistant D.A. Will Zickl countered that there are cases allowing "emergency doctrine" statements to remain admissible, just as he'd argued the first time around on the same motion.

Judge Robert Noonan said he will reserve a ruling on the motions until just before opening arguments.

Monday, May 3, 2010 at 10:56 am

Oakfield man accidentally shot by father while hunting turkeys

post by Howard B. Owens in hunting, Oakfield

A 46-year-old Oakfield hunter was accidentally shot by his father while turkey hunting off Albion Road in Oakfield at 6:25 a.m.

Scott Hartman, of Lockport Road, is listed in critical condition at Strong Memorial Hospital, according to the Sheriff's Office, after he was taken there by Mercy Flight.

Hartman was reportedly in some heavy brush when his father, 71-year-old Howard Hartment, of Clinton Street Road, Batavia, saw movement he mistook for a turkey.

According to a Sheriff's Office report, the Hartmans entered the woods about 6 a.m. The two began calling and a turkey answered. Scott and Howard separated and continued calling. Scott went off to Howard's right. After about 10 minutes, Howard saw what he believed to be a turkey he was calling off to his left, at about 50 yards under a pine tree.  When it cleared, Howard fired.

What Howard thought was a turkey turned out to be Scott. Scott had apparently circled around without Howard being aware of his new location.

After being hit by the shotgun pellets, Scott called 9-1-1 and walked out of the wooded/swamp area on his own.

Deputy Ron Meides handled the initial investigation, but it has now been turned over to the Department of Environmental Conservation for follow up.

UPDATE 2:37 p.m.: Strong Memorial now lists Scott Hartman in guarded condition.

UPDATE 3:17 p.m.: I requested from Strong's PR department a definition of "guarded." Here's what Jill D'Agostino wrote back: "Guarded" is the condition that’s typically assigned to anyone in one of our intensive care units. Patients who are on regular patient units (non-ICU) are listed as "satisfactory."

(Initial Report)

Monday, May 3, 2010 at 10:44 am

Bail set for Holley man accused of stealing guns from Byron resident

post by Howard B. Owens in byron, crime

A man accused of assaulting and stealing three guns from a Byron resident last week has a chance to make bail despite a lengthy criminal history.

Judge Robert C. Noonan, after saying he would have set bail higher had the prosecution request a higher bail, said Darrell Bruce Reid, 45, of 4 N. Main St., Holley, can get out of jail if he can come up with $50,000 cash or bond.

"I don’t think I’ve ever had anybody in who’s been arrested over 100 times before," Noonan said.

Reid is accused of hitting a Byron resident at 3:30 a.m., April 24, and stealing three long guns. The victim reportedly had only met Reid recently. He was hospitalized with a broken nose and cuts.

According to attorney William Tedford, from the public defenders office, Reid has spent most of his life in Western New York, except for three years in South Dakota. He has a child living in Chili and a mother, who has breast cancer, living in Rochester. Tedford said Reid was the only child living in the region who could help care for his mother.

Tedford asked for $15,000 bail.

District Attorney Kevin Finnell asked for $50,000 after stating that Reid had two prior parole and two prior probation revocations.

Reid is charged with with robbery, 2nd, assault, 2nd, and three counts of grand larceny.

Monday, May 3, 2010 at 7:46 am

Police Beat: Driver charged with DWI following one-car accident

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, crime, Le Roy, pembroke

Scott C. Stine, 48, of York, Pa., is charged with DWI, refusal to take a breath test and moving from lane unsafely. Stine is accused driving drunk after being involved in a single-vehicle accident in the area of 8936 Lovers Lane Road, Pembroke, at 2:32 p.m., Saturday. He was jailed on $20,000 bail. Initial Report.

Jonathan D. Chapman, 40, of Le Roy, is charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Chapman was taken into custody by Village of Le Roy Police following an alleged domestic dispute on Myrtle Street on Friday night. Chapman was jailed on $500 bail.

Brandy L. Osmancikli, 36, of Alabama, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Osmancikli was arrested by State Police at 11:32 p.m., Saturday, on Lewiston Road in Alabama. No further details were released.

Monday, May 3, 2010 at 6:34 am

Mercy Flight being called in for hunting accident

post by Howard B. Owens in hunting

We don't have much information on this yet -- Mercy Flight is being dispatched for a hunting accident -- a man has sustained shotgun wounds while hunting turkeys.

UPDATE 6:44 a.m.: Landing zone being set up on Lockport Road, Oakfield.

UPDATE 7:01 a.m.: Mercy Flight in route to Strong Memorial Hospital.

Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Caller on Swan reports loud noise

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

Batavia Police are being dispatched to the area of Swan Street for the report of a loud noise.

The caller was on his porch and said it was very loud, a boom.

I heard it, too, and I'm four or five blocks from Swan. From the echo, I could tell it was some blocks away, but loud. I was guessing in the area of Kibbe Park, but I'm inside.

UPDATE 11:45 p.m.: A reader on Hutchins reports hearing it, too. Police cleared the scene about 11:30 p.m. without finding anything.

Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Dog struck on Colorado Avenue

post by Howard B. Owens in animals, batavia, crime, pets

A dog has been struck on Colorado Avenue.

The driver did not stop.

No description of the hit-and-run vehicle is available.

A person is on scene awaiting police in order to help identify and notify the owner.

Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Drinking may have been factor in serious accident in Basom on Sunday

post by Howard B. Owens in Basom, accident, Alabama

An Alabama man was seriously injured in a single-car accident today when his car struck a tree on Sandhill Road, Basom.

Robert J. VanPelt, 22, was taken by Mercy Flight to ECMC following the 1:40 p.m. accident.

While the accident remains under investigation, a Sheriff's Office release says alcohol may have been a contributing factor.

"Charges may be pending," according to the release.

VanPelt is being treated for multiple serious injuries.

VanPetl's passenger, Brandon Rueben (no age provided), also from Alabama, was taken by ground ambulance to ECMC. The Sheriff's Office describes his injuries as "non-life threatening."

VanPelt was driving a 1997 Buick north on Sandhill when he apparently failed to negotiate a curve and traveled off the east side of the road. His car then traveled back across Sandhill and off the west shoulder, where hit struck an embankment and then a tree.

Responding to the scene were Deputy Lonnie Nati, Deputy Dana Richardson, Sgt. T.A. Sanfratello, Investigator Kris Kautz, Deputy Kevin McCarthy and Deputy Eric Seppela from the crash-management team. Assisting at the scene were Alabama, Indian Falls and Pembroke fire departments as well as Mercy EMS.

For our initial report, click here.

Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Report of large brush fire off Harper Road, Corfu

post by Howard B. Owens in corfu, Darien, fire

A "large brush fire" moving into the woods has been reported in the area of 9980 Harper Road, Corfu.

Darien Fire has been dispatched.

UPDATE 3:45 p.m.: Chief on scene reports large brush fire, but not heading into the woods. He's going to explain the new burn laws to the property owner. Darien units, except 46, being put back in service. Incident address corrected to 9990 Harper Road.


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Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Big soccer weekend at new athletic fields in Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Turf, soccer, sports

soc_01.jpg

Regional and local soccer players gathered at the recently completed Batavia Sports Park at Batavia Turf Farms on Bank Street Road over Saturday and Sunday for various training sessions.

The camp included sessions for the New York State West Olympic Development Program on both days. This afternoon the Genesee Amateur Soccer Association held a Coaches and Players Clinic.

More pictures after the jump:

Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Town of Batavia Fire holds annual awards dinner

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, volunteer firefighters

fire_dinner_100respond.jpg

In the Town of Batavia Fire Hall on Saturday night, Batavia's volunteers gathered for their annual awards dinner and installation of officers.

Above, all of the firefighters who responded to at least 100 calls during 2009 are recognized.

Dan Kemp was named Firefighter of the Year and Randy McIntire won the President's Award. Nate Fix and Bob Mullen were recognized for each responding to more than 200 calls.

Dan Jacques and Paul Barrett (who was unable to attend) were recognized for 25 years of service.

After the jump, more pictures:

Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Car hits tree on Sand Hill Road, Basom

post by Howard B. Owens in Basom, accident, Alabama

Mercy Flight is on stand by following a single-car accident in the area of 7605 Sandhill Road, Basom.

The car hit a tree. Injuries are reported.

Alabama Fire and Indian Falls are being dispatched along with Mercy EMS.

UPDATE 1:49 p.m.: Two Mercy Flight helicopters are being requested along with another Mercy EMS advance life support ambulance. One patient is reported unconscious. The landing zone is being set up at the corner of Hopkins and Sliker Roads. The first helicopter has a three-minute ETA.

UPDATE 1:55 p.m.: A fire engine needs to be positioned so the winch can be used to stabilize the vehicle.

UPDATE 2:10 p.m.: Second patient extricated.

UPDATE 2:16 p.m.: The second helicopter is coming from Buffalo. It has at least at 20 minute ETA yet.

UPDATE 2:28 p.m.: The second helicopter is being cancelled. The patient will be transported by ground ambulance.


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Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 9:10 am

New OTB chairman says video terminals keeping Batavia Downs afloat

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, business, harness racing, sports

Harness racing isn't want it used to be and probably never will be again, according to newly elected Chairman of the Western Region Off Track Betting Board of Directors Dick Siebert.

In an interview with WBTA, Siebert characterized harness racing as "the cost of doing business." It's the loss leader that under state law allows Batavia Downs Casino to keep its doors open for the much more profitable video slot machines.

"The people that used to come to our parlors, the 55 and older men, are no longer 55 years of age," Siebert said. "Unfortunately, they're dying off. The newer group of people, it doesn't have the interest to them that it did with the old bettor. ... I honestly can't see where harness racing is going to turn around and ever be back where it was in the '50s, '60s and '70s."

He said in 2009, Batavia Downs lost $1.5 million on harness racing while the video lottery terminals brought in $3 million in profits.

To help reduce harness racing costs, more bets will be placed at electronic terminals rather than at the traditional caged window with a person taking the bet.

Meanwhile, Siebert said the Downs continues to work with state regulators on a plan to address deficiencies in some administrative procedures. He said the board is looking to hire a consultant to help address the state's concerns, rather than bring in a management company to take over the Downs' operations, which is one of the state's other suggestions.

Full interview available here (mp3).

Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 8:46 am

Batavia woman hurt in two-car crash in Alabama

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, Alabama

A Batavia woman was hurt in a two-vehicle accident at 1:35 p.m. Friday in Alabama.

The woman stopped the 2003 Toyota pickup she was driving at intersection of Townline Road and Maple Street Road when she was struck by another car that was behind her.

Cheryl A. Vagg, 53, of 110 Evans St., Batavia, was transported to UMMC by ground ambulance with back pain, according to Deputy Timothy Wescott, who investigated the accident.

The other driver, Susan J. Neamon, 46, of 2272 Thomas Road, Varysburg, was not injured.

Vagg's passenger, Keith W. Cadieux, 54, was not injured.

Neamon told Wescott she was "looking for oncoming traffic and must have rolled forward." Her 2009 Ford Sedan struck Vagg's truck, which was in front of her preparing to make a right-hand turn on Maple Street Road.

No citations were issued.

Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 7:31 am

Batavia man tells police he was shot while walking on Indian Falls Road

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Alabama, crime, Indian Falls Road

A 35-year-old Batavia man reported being shot and his wallet stolen as he walked down what he thinks was Indian Falls Road about 5:30 p.m., Saturday.

After being shot and robbed, Carlos Torres called a friend for assistance, who drove him to UMMC. He was transferred from UMMC to Strong Memorial Hospital by Mercy Flight, according to the Sheriff's Office.

He was in surgery at the time the Sheriff's Office released information on the incident at 11:23 p.m., Saturday.

Torres told officials, according to the release, that he believes he was walking on Indian Falls Road when a car pulled up behind him and somebody demanded his wallet. He was then shot in the back and his wallet was taken.

After the suspects left, he continued walking to Route 5, where he called a friend for help.

The Sheriff's Office says Torres was shot twice with a small caliber weapon. His injuries are not believed to be life threatening.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 345-3000.

Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Fight reported at the carnival

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, carnival, crime, downtown

carnival_fight.jpg

Police have responded to a report of a fight at the carnival in downtown Batavia.

When the first unit he arrived, the officer reported "quite a fight." He immediately called for an ambulance for a person having a seizure.

A subject was reportedly seen fleeing west on Ellicott Street and crossing the street toward Della Penna's. Police are looking for two white males, with one wearing a white T-shirt.

UPDATE 10:04 p.m.: One of the subjects who fled reportedly dropped a knife. A second fight has reportedly broken out. Two State Police units have been called in to back up Batavia Police.

UPDATE 10:11 p.m.: Mercy EMS was requested to check on a male down behind Alberty's. He reportedly has a head laceration. There is also a report of "all suspects are black males." It's unclear if that's related to all fights or just one of the fights.

UPDATE 10:29 p.m.: One patient transported to UMMC. Police units going back in service. 

UPDATE 8 a.m. Sunday: Reader Adam Lowder submitted the photo above. His description of events follows after the jump:

Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Photos: More fun at the carnival

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, carnival, downtown, photos

carnival_sat09aa.jpg

The Downtown Batavia Carnival continued on Saturday, so we have more pictures from this afternoon. Sunday is the final day and it runs from 1 to 5 p.m.

More pictures after the jump:

Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 5:03 pm

May Day Party features arts and crafts for kids

footpaint01.jpg

footpaint02.jpg

Families from Batavia's Natural Parenting Network gathered at the home of Kristi Evans today for a May Day Party that featured arts and crafts for the children. Evans said the wind today made it a little tough to do crafts outside, but all the kids were having a great time, anyway.

Sarah Fisher set up the foot-painting activity and Olivia Dayton was the first child to give it a try.

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