Blogs > Frye on the News

Keeping his eye on the news and offering commentaries and insights on what is happening in Oakland County, around the world, on the tube and in the news.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Changes in prosecutor's office

You might be hearing less about crimes being charged in Oakland
County, after word reached us at The Oakland Press that Prosecutor-
elect Jessica Cooper has ordered all staff to refrain from talking to
the media about their cases.
All media contacts must go through the top dog in the office, Cooper,
a one-time circuit judge in Oakland County who moved onto the Court
of Appeals before stepping down into partisan politics.
Too bad.
Outgoing Prosecutor David Gorcyca had his critics, mostly for a
stubborn streak he carried in how he handled his cases. But I always
admired that he trusted his staff, which consists of some of the best
criminal attorneys in the area. Prosecutors were able to speak openly
about their cases, describing facts that were already on the record
and helping reporters with schedule changes and issues related to
when something would occur.
We write many stories about crimes in Oakland County, and when
questions arise as to why specific charges were filed (or amended or
dismissed), it's good to be able to speak to the person who knows the
Now, even Gorcyca preferred to be the one talking about major cases,
where controversy lurked. That is natural; let the leader handle the
controversies. Cooper is walking into one, as a 16-year-old boy faces
charges of murder in the shooting death of an Oak Park police
officer. The elected leaders should be the ones in the spotlight for
those questions. But the prosecutor's office handles thousands of
cases each year, most of them minor and rarely making their way to
the top floor.
In telling stories related to these cases, we require details and
accuracy, and when I covered courts, I achieved that by having my
questions answered by the people who know the cases.
An assistant prosecutor can answer why a plea was negotiated, when
the straight from-the-courtroom facts may make it look like they
weren't being tough on crime. An assistant can also put a case into
During a trial, an assistant prosecutor can answer questions about an
attack a defense attorney makes on a witness, evidence or the police.
Now all these specifics must be answered by Cooper, who will know
only the basics and not be able to address specific questions without
calling the assistant to ask. That means more work for the assistant
and less details for the public.
It also opens up the office to more criticism, as defense attorneys
or families of defendants can take shots at the prosecutors with a
good chance of no reaction by the prosecutors. If Cooper returns a
call the next day, there's the possibility the story has already run.
There also is a sense that Cooper lacks confidence in the office she
will run. Furthermore, this mandate brings a veil of secrecy over
what should be open and transparent, the prosecution of crimes by a
public tax-funded agency.
Let's hope it's a short-term change from what was once one of the
most open offices in the county.
They are going through enough changes already, as a dozen prosecutors
have been reportedly relieved of their duties by Cooper.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Out-of-work coach

The headline reads, Marinelli: "Time to buy stock in the Lions is now."
I know Lions coaches going back decades have never returned to lead a football team after being chewed out by the failures in Detroit, but I hate to think of Rod Marinelli limiting his future.
A statement like that will prevent him from finding work as a broker or anywhere inside financial institutions, especially if he talks of having family in the business.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Parker and the Marinelli

Of course, with Christmas and the holidays here as the playoff
approach is a good time to bring some humor to work. Didn't work for
Rob Parker, though, the Detroit News sports columnists, who is well
known with sparking debates with his abrasive style.
However, his repeated joke about the choice of husband by the Lions'
head coach's daughter didn't go over too well on Sunday, nor on Monday.
Too bad.
Rod Marinelli has more important fish to fry instead of worrying
about whether he's insulted by questions asked of him by the press.
If that is what he cares about, then he'll have plenty of time to
fret when he is formally released from what is the worst football
season ever. Relieved of that duty, he can opine all he wants about
Parker's style, decisions or point of view.
Until then, he should worry about one thing and one thing alone,
winning a single football game.
He should have known that his decisions will be evaluated and
criticized. He should also have known that a decision to hire a
FAMILY MEMBER will be further scrutinized. If he didn't know this,
someone in the Lions organization should have shown him a computer, a
Web site, a blog and then directly told him that he should not bite
when his daughter's choice in husband is commented upon.
Hiring a son-in-law to run a defense for a team that has not won a
football game this season and has given up 42 points to a team not
making the playoffs and missing one of the best backs in the game is
asking for criticism to be backed up to your front door and dumped
out of the truck.
Too bad, but the Lions will lose in Green Bay because their
leadership has long ago stopped worrying about its business and day-
to-day operations. Instead of worrying about the product they present
to the world, they are worrying about what is being said about that
If Marinelli is really annoyed about what people think, he should be
worried about being known as the worst coach ever in the NFL.
It may not be true, as Lions fans will quickly rattle off five worse
coaches from their own team, but the numbers won't lie and they'll
point to failed leadership guiding the worst campaign ever.
In the end, Rob Parker's question and bad joke are a smile and hello
compared to the insult that this Lions' season has been. I'm glad Mr.
Parker asked the question, and I would like to hear an actual answer
and explanation as to why Marinelli's son-in-law is allowed to
continue to lead this pathetic defense.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bad news for animals

In what is shaping up to be a difficult day for animals in the news,
two stories highlight problems faced by the animal kingdom.
In one, a recent study has shown that elephants live longer in the
wild than they do in zoos. Living conditions inside zoos is one
reason officials at the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak sent popular
attractions Winky and Wanda, one of whom has since died, to
California to live in a sanctuary. (Winky died this spring at age 56;
reports indicated he
I've seen recent broadcast reports describing other efforts to help
elephants in zoos, including a push in L.A. to build a sanctuary in
its zoo or else giving up the elephants. The last report I saw showed
numerous zoos having given up on housing elephants in conditions that
are detrimental to their health, as elephants need more space to thrive.
So this report highlights what people have been thinking for a while.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration is scaling back protections of
endangered species (animals and plants). These changes include
eliminating some studies conducted before projects start and
prohibiting evaluations of what impact a project could have on global
warming and then on specific species, The Associated Press reported.
Of course, this is standard. Obama vows to reverse them when in office.
Same thing happened when Clinton left office. For instance, he
toughened rules for working in forests, something Bush undid when he
was in office.
It's a game of back and forth, but out of that, real change does
come... eventually.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Santa in the police blotter

Today, this headline crossed the wires: Big cat bites Santa during photo shoot at NJ store.
What I thought of first was another Santa crime-related story that crossed the wires last Christmas, involving a woman giving an inappropriate tug to Santa, prompting prosecutors to charge her with a sexual assault. That was somewhere in the northeast and this cat bite occurred in New Jersey.
This Santa was helping raise money for an animal rescue league, posing with pets, when the large cat -- some speculated it may have been a cougar -- was placed on his lap and he was bitten and scratched.
They don't know what the animal is because the owner and cat took off, prompting another police mystery.
However, this is a good Santa, as he is willing to endure rabies shots, preferring no harm to the animal, calling it a "beautiful animal (that) was naturally scared."
Nice Santa.
Wonder what the other Santa, from last year, thought.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Slappy on and off the ice

I've never had much much interest in what Sean Avery does on or off the ice, but the Dallas Stars player (actually, he's more of a rover who just happens to be passing through Texas, having traveled from Detroit, to L.A., to the NY Rangers) seems like one who enjoys being in trouble.
That can be a nice way to stay in the public eye and consider oneself an outsider. However, the crude comments shared this week about his ex-girlfriend reveal the pleasure he takes in causing trouble, much like the way a former Piston, Dennis Rodman. According to reports, Avery approached a group of reporters, made his quick statement and then thanked them, asking them to enjoy the game. Video coverage seems to reveal a smile as he heads towards the troubling phrase.
This was planned out, I believe.
With his past troubles, including allegedly referring to a player's cancer and an obnoxious display in blocking goalie Martin Brodeur in the playoffs, this was just another way to get himself into the spotlight.
Kudos to the league for their swift response, suspending him that same day, which I think helped shape the comments from his bosses and teammates (both current and former), which were exclusively negative. There was little defense of Avery and his subsequent apology — "I would like to sincerely apologize for my off-color remarks to the press yesterday from Calgary. I should not have made those comments and I recognize that they were inappropriate. It was a bad attempt to build excitement for the game, but I am now acutely aware of how hurtful my actions were." — seemed weak and with little sincerity (especially when you have to tell people you are sincere).
To me, the comments were just rude and idiotic, more indicative of the speaker rather than the subject. But his desire to stir the pot, with something this absolutely juvenile and stupid, is what makes me sick of this character.
Here's hoping his foot stays in his mouth and his skates stay off the ice. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Again with the d'oh

Looking silly on the football field is a good thing, though it may hurt the pride. It's a way for people to have some fun, laughing at a mistake, but in the bigger picture it's harmless. A dropped ball or a stumbled run don't end lives, though maybe careers.
Off-field mistakes can lead to lots of laughs, but the serious tone of some of these instances reminds one that the laughs should be muffled.
For Plaxico Burress, the former MSU Spartans standout receiver who recently won fame and a Super Bowl ring with the New York Giants, is learning about the difficulties of off-field mistakes.
He has been charged with serious weapons charges after apparently, according to reports and police, he shot himself in the leg while at a nightclub at 1 a.m. Saturday.
Carrying a loaded unregistered gun is a serious no-no.
However, getting caught committing this alleged crime by shooting himself in the leg is a serious d'oh.
Reminds of his rookie season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, when he caught a long pass, fell to the ground, and spiked the ball like the tough NFL superstar he was. Of course, he hadn't been touched and he was no longer in college, meaning his spike was actually a fumble and his team lost the ball despite a long completion. 
That's a cute d'oh, unlike the ugly one he now faces.