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.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Strong sentence, but a question

I'm used now to seeing strong sentences for drunken drivers who kill. The days of short jail terms or even two years sentences are over for the worst drunken driving cases.

Today, Frances Dingle of Macomb County, a 48-year-old woman, was sentenced to 22.5 to 25 years in prison for four counts of second-degree murder. She was drunk when her van slammed into a carload of teenagers in 2009.

But I wonder about the sentence. There's a two-thirds rule that requires the bottom part (minimum term) be no more than 2/3s of the maximum term. For instance, for a 15-year manslaughter charge, the highest possible sentence is 10-to-15 years. The idea is that the prison system needs some kind of incentive to keep prisoners in line.

But in many cases there are specifics that dictate the sentences being altered or adjusted, such as prior felonies making one a habitual offender.

I don't know what happened with this case to make have that odd sentence. I mean, one could argue that a defendant with a 22.5 to 25 year sentence could just be as unruly as possible, knowing that they only have to serve 2.5 years on their bottom term, especially because they may feel like parole is not likely the first time around.

Anyone have any thoughts?

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gas prices and murder

Ok, I paid $2.85 this morning, not quite filling up in Rochester Hills. A nice family owns the station and I like to go there and say good morning. Same people have been there ever since I moved into the area.

Driving to the office, I passed stations in Pontiac that were on Perry Street, selling first for $2.57 and then $2.55. Wow, big difference, I think.

Then I realize we're approaching the five-year anniversary of the murder of David Bingham, a father of two who was shot to death after surrendering his vehicle to a pair of teenage carjackers at a Perry Street gas station. The victim, I recall, had done everything right when confronted by the teens, who took his truck, drove around the block and then returned to eliminate the witness to their crime.

They were none too bright, being caught a short while later by patrolling officers. They had the man's property on them, I recall.

Christopher Eugene Jackson is 22 and has served five years of a life term. He'll never get out, as far as the law is concerned now. And though he was younger than 18 when he shot Bingham to death, the recent Supreme Court decision will not help him. (He killed someone, and the US's top court ruled life without parole was unfair for teenagers who had not killed.)

I covered the trial of one teenager (the other one pleaded to a lesser charge and testified) and it was horrific, hearing the shooting as Mr. Bingham talked to a 9-1-1 operator and then watching the video from the station's surveillance tapes.

I'm guessing this can influence why gas is cheaper in some areas.

During the sentencing, Jackson walked out of court, saying, "I'm going to bounce back." He's a level four (the second highest level) prisoner in Manistee County. He was absolutely horrible in court, defiant and disrespectful to the judge, attorneys and victim's family. For no real reason, he shot a man who was filling up on his way to work, on the morning after the July 4th holiday in 2005.

I'll pay the extra $3 or $4.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Kwame is sick of it, and I'm sick of him

Ok, Kwame Kilpatrick is in jail. I think he knew he was in trouble, based on Channel 4 WDIV's footage from his arrival at Metro Detroit last night.

The former mayor, well, I like disgraced mayor more, had a look of 'I don't need this shit anymore' when the camera appeared in front him as he tried to exit the airport.

I'm not saying that I knew then he was going away, but he looked like he was sick of this state, the city, the media and this entire mess. Today in court, as the judge lectured him, he looked like he knew the answer for sure. The defendant did not gasp when the judge let the prison sentence been known (in a highly and effective dramatic method, I must add).

But now that he's in prison, I again feel sick of the story. I can't imagine anyone in the political or judicial system willing to risk anything to help him, so I imagine his appeals will go nowhere. I don't even see anyone wanting to rush to parole him, though a strained and shrinking system might mandate his release in a bit over a year, if they can say at the time that that simply what happens in these cases.

I just don't see anyone putting their necks on the line to help the guy.

On another note, here's some of the better Tweets on the subject:

Kwame Kilpatrick makes it big on Twitter

Of The Oakland Press
Kwame Kilpatrick, Detroit’s disgraced former mayor and Michigan’s newest state prisoner, cracked the top 10 Tweet trends on Tuesday for a short while in the late morning.
Here are some of the better comments people made on Twitter:
  • stevefmiller: “Kilpatrick is going to prison!! LOL Its about time!”
  • rethinkdetroit: “Good riddance.”
  • Esther A Mameyaa: “THANKS FOR defaming THE NAME ‘KWAME’ (jerk).”
  • Ironman0509: “There is justice after all.”
  • Mark_R3 (Mark Rabinowitz): “Kwame Kilpatrick’s back behind bars! Yes!”
  • JeffNoricks: “I wonder if Kwame Kilpatrick still thinks he’s being setup for a comeback?”
  • Cheesecake_King: “SpongeBob thought Kwame was going to jail bcuz he Kilpatrick.”
  • NicoleCiara: “Kwame Kilpatrick, Mayor of Detroit has to do 5yrs in jail! Keep him and his family in your prayers!”
  • bestchannelnews (Rose Best): “Design Your own Kilpatrick. It’s time to stop chasing former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatricks empty promises.”
  • JKsWhoppergirl: “Finally, Kwame Kilpatrick has to face the facts that he’s got to follow rules like the rest of us.”
  • tonni06: “YES, Kwame Kilpatrick finally got what he deserves. JAIL TIME”
  • fabulousstar: “Kwame Kilpatrick gave an Academy Award performance in court today, but justice prevailed.”
  • bomani_jones: “his delusional hip-hop fantasy is complete.”
  • DanWetzel: “Michigan AD David Brandon much better at articulating his defense than Kwame Kilpatrick.”
  • manny_lopez: “I bet Kwame thinking the ‘conspiracy’ against him continues. About time he realize only one person at fault & it’s not ‘the man.’”
  • “#Kwame was wrong. But really the prosecutor has ruined all chances of collecting the $ for Detroit. Who will hire him after this?”
  • MichiganPete: “Whenever a clown retires, someone has some pretty big shoes to fill.”
By early afternoon, the former mayor dropped off the Twitter top 10 trend.

OK, the last one may not have been specifically about the former mayor, but it’s close enough to being appropriate. Stephen Frye is Online Editor at The Oakland Press. You can follow him on @stevefrye. You can also get the latest news fast by following @TheOaklandPress or any of our reporters on Twitter.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gas prices

So here we are, almost to Memorial Day and as usual, gas prices are still a story.

But this year, they're doing something else. They're falling.

It seems that locally, they fall faster in some areas. Yesterday, I kept seeing $2.85 or so for regular in Rochester Hills, but when I came into Pontiac to work, I saw $2.61. That was low enough to get my attention.

Funny how that price of oil impacts some stations, or perhaps localities, more than others.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010


Seems as if politics has slowed (killed?) the school bullying bill. Isn't that almost funny?

It would be except it sounds like Lansing as usual.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Two things are clear: Deer is dead and citizens helped crack case

I can understand why police officers and state DNR officials have been puzzling over a case of a dead deer. Reporter Dave Phillips expanded on his story about the possibly poached deer today.

Both sides have different stories and it's confusing to get down to the truth. Both stories are confusing. The first one can be read here.

But here's what seems for sure:

The deer is dead. The deer is likely (based on being a 23-point buck) the one that went missing from the Troy nature center.

Citizens are the one who provided key clues to try to get to the truth of the matter.

For me, what's interesting is people's willingness to participate. And that's what we're focused on here at The Oakland Press.

We cannot report on all the interesting news in Oakland County. It's impossible. That's why our paper is trying its best to partner with the community.

In this story, someone reported seeing the dead deer. Someone else, a neighbor, took a picture of it. And later, a customer at a meat processing plant took a cell phone photo.

That's how easy it is for the community to participate.

And that's what we're doing, working with people who have information about events, take pictures of stuff going on, and shoot video of happenings. We will let you tell the story and share it with our readers, expanding a Citizen Journalism program started two years ago here.

Now we have partnered with bloggers in Oakland County. We will soon have the capability of having people post their own videos on our site. We let you publish your photos. We ask questions and rely on your tips. We want you to report what you see wrong in your community, whether by using our online tip box or posting something on our SeeClickFix map.

The only way to truly provide hyperlocal coverage of what's happening is to work with you and will continue to expand this. Next week, we will host a forum to discuss our next effort, The Ben Franklin Project. Check it out.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Live video

Exciting time here at The Oakland Press. Not only do we now have a newly improved video player, we're also finding time to work with live video streaming.

Today, we partnered with Bruce Fealk and his online publication, The Rochester Citizen, which he started after having initially worked in an exclusively political blog. Mr. Fealk wanted to see the Oakland County Board of Commissioners meeting and they do not broadcast those. So he went to do it and we used his link to share with our readers.

Tomorrow, Friday, we will try our own, with Lions Lowdown writer Paula Pasche discussing the Detroit Lions, their draft, their schedule and the likelihood that they could actually improve. Check us out Friday at noon. And thanks Bruce for your willingness to partner with us.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Supreme Court decisions

People like to look at issues from a single perspective, such as liberal or conservative, tough-on-crime or bleeding heart.

But two Supreme Court decisions seem to go into different directions, one pertaining to life sentences for juveniles and other dealing with sex offenders.

The lifer issue for juveniles is something I've looked at before in Michigan, but the Supreme Court decision will not impact our state's prison system. In Michigan, life without parole is a punishment handed down for murder (first-degree, whether felony or premeditated). A few years ago, I wrote about Oakland County's history of juveniles committing murder. At the time, we had 40 inmates in the state prison system who were serving life without parole for murders they committed before they turned 18.

The Supreme Court rules that states cannot sentence juveniles to life without parole if the crime does not involve murder. In Michigan, defendants can be sentenced to life for some other crimes, such as armed robbery or first-degree criminal sexual conduct, but parole is generally a possibility. Some may label this ruling as weak on crime, but it will likely have no impact in Michigan.

On the same day, however, the Supreme Court did make a tough-on-crime move I believe that will give communities and states greater power in confronting a problem — sexual predators.

This one is a tricky situation because most child sexual assault cases rarely end with a top sentence handed down, such as life or a 50-year minimum term. Often, the cases have to pleaded down to get the conviction because trials are difficult on victims and can be tough to win when it's one person's word against another's. But now, federal law allows states to hold "sexually dangerous" inmates longer, essentially bending the rules to protect society.

The court now stands to help strengthen or expand the law, meaning some people who actually would not re-offend may get caught up in this and find themselves being held longer. But it's necessary to keep the community safe, many will feel. These are the toughest, most sensitive cases.

So, score one for the Supreme Court helping prisoners, and score another for the Supreme Court sticking it to prisoners. From my point of view, society wins with these two decisions.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Detroit police

Such sad news out of Detroit today. Oh my, what a month for the department.

Just about a week after the department lost a member due to a shooting, the officers working one of the toughest jobs in the nation now face another crisis. According to the AP, an officer fired his gun during a home search for a homicide suspect, killing a 7-year-old girl.

The last week was one of intense community support for the department, and this is in a city that often doesn't get along with its police force. There was a funeral and then memorial service as well as the arrest and charging of the suspect, who killed one officer and wounded four others.

I wonder what the community's reaction will be. Will they be sick of the crime or angry with the police? What a sad story, a young girl dying this way.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

People care and are commenting

Evidence that people do care about their communities can be found within the list of our most commented stories.

This week, for a bit, all of the top stories involved cuts to school districts and city services. And the comments get better in those stories. Oh, they are plenty angry and filled with vile and insults. But it's not as bad as national stories or crime stories. People are debating an issue that will likely impact every resident of Oakland County.

I've noticed the trend since Troy led off by foreseeing massive cuts around the corner. Well, initially, they talked about a shortfall, and city leaders tried to get voters to approve a tax hike. It failed miserably and now the talks are all on closures and layoffs.

But Troy is not alone. Bloomfield Hills (city and school district), Rochester schools, Novi schools, Madison Heights' police, Royal Oak police, Pontiac schools and city hall, and Clarkston police have all been impacted so far by falling property tax revenues due to property values free fall. Beverly Hills is wondering about a tax hike. Bloomfield Township barely passed one.

When will your community face it? From our polls, more people favor cutting services instead of raising taxes, and community and school leaders better face the facts.

Feel free to join the conversation.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

TV thoughts for tonight

A night without hockey. And no Tigers. Hmmmm......maybe I'll check a few minutes of LeBron fighting for his playoff life. But probably not. I'll catch up on my DVR and 30 Rock.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Roundabouts: We want to hear from you

The state wants to hear what motorists think of roundabouts.

And they should start in Oakland County, where two communities have had them installed — Rochester Hills and West Bloomfield Township.

Readers vary. Some wonder what's the big deal and why can't others figure them out. Others say they are wrong for the type of driving we do around here.

One editor here commented that roundabouts might work well, but not with Michigan drivers. You have to know who your audience is.

Personally, I like them and I can maneuver easily through them; however, I must admit that I worry when I go through them about the other drivers. Feel free to share your thoughts here, but at least check out the comments on our story about the state survey.

It's actually a healthy discussion, which is something I do very much like.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010


The comments on the story about a Pontiac mother who killed her baby and was found not guilty by reason of insanity are interesting.
They are much more than the typical hating on Pontiac that goes on or the typical anti-crime rhetoric. They involve people who know the woman or the case.
It's good to see a story expanding outward with a real conversation. Please, note, I'm sure not all the comments are made in the spirit of adding to the story.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Press conference

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy will hold a press conference to announce charges against person suspected of fatally shooting a Detroit police officer.

I just wonder, if her office is going to charge the person with first-degree murder, then why withhold the announcement while announcing the press conference. Just announce the charges and file them as soon as possible.

However, there's one main reason to hold a press conference, and that's if the top charge is not being applied. Then you'll have to explain your office's reasoning. And if it's a negative thing that you're announcing, you want to be there to take the questions immediately and face-to-face.

Perhaps, she'll announce an initiative to make killing a police officer one of the felonies for which first-degree felony murder is applied. Right now, it's a limited bunch of felonies, such as armed robbery or rape, and the idea is this, even if one does not intend to kill someone, if someone dies during the commission of a felony, it's the same as premeditated murder.

So the press conference could be used to highlight a shortcoming in the law.

Otherwise, if you're announcing a top charge, are you just using the opportunity for some face time? I hope not, not with the death of a police officer. Let the wheels turn and don't make it about you, unless there's something tricky that needs explaining.

When Worthy announced charges against disgraced ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, she held a press conference, and that was necessary, for it was a political event and she owed it to the city and surrounding area to explain what she had and why she was doing what she did.

Whatever happens, I'm interested in what Worthy has to say about this current case. Nothing in Detroit will ever get fixed if police officers are getting killed or if teachers lack support to do their jobs. No one 'moves forward' if the basics are not covered.

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Friday, May 7, 2010

Web problem leads to debate over politics and paywalls

We had a small problem with the website, with a virus causing a few headaches. (Maybe more, but I only heard of one.)
It's been fixed, but what's neat is that the story about the issue generated debate over the left-versus-right leaning nature of the paper as well as paywalls.
Let's the bring the debate to my blog.
Fire away!

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ernie Harwell earned the respect shown to him

Respect can come in many forms.

One way we're used to seeing it is from massive amounts of media coverage when one dies. And we see that with first the illness and now the passing of Ernie Harwell.

But behind the mass reporting of the life of Harwell is the real reason for the respect shown to the broadcast legend. He was loved like a family member. He was loved and respected by those who love baseball, Michigan residents, the legions of dedicated Detroit Tigers fans, and anyone who ever met him.

It was his personal touch that made Harwell such a hero. He was a great broadcaster who knew baseball, had a one-of-a-kind voice, and possessed an art to telling stories and describing plays. But his humility with fans and caring for all people is what made them love him, especially after they met him.

In a world where Tweets and reTweets now create connections, Harwell did it one person at a time. I'm sure when people met him and were so impressed with his interest in them and the time he could spend sharing, they shared that with other people. And though hundreds of thousands would listen throughout the baseball season, their respect grew over the years as stories of gentle nature were spread.

Of course, I'm taking this from the stories shared about him in the past year, especially today.
I wrote a piece for Thursday's paper about what readers had to say, and I want to share some more of the highlights of what he meant.

So here is what you had to say:

FROM ONE READER: "My Grandma turned me on to Ernie back in the mid 60's. I remember her sitting in her chair, lights down low, smoking a cigarette, relaxing and listening to our beloved Tigers on the radio. The announcer of course was Ernie Harwell, whose voice and description of the game of baseball remain unsurpassed.
Those memories and of the Tigers 1967 season when we lost out on the last day of the season to finish one game out of first place, then the 1968 season when the Tigers won the American League championship, then beat the St Louis Cardinals in a seven game World Series made me a life long Tigers fan. Ernie guided me through the whole season, always on the money with his description of the game on the field, while paying homage to the history of the game of baseball. The games were not all on television back then, we listened to Ernie to keep up on the Tigers. I clearly remember listening to the broadcasts on a transistor radio tucked under my pillow and falling asleep to the voice of Ernie Harwell, sweet dreams.
What a great man, a true gentleman, a class act all the way.
Even in accepting his fate, he thanks the fans for their support, comforting them, while we just wanted to hug him and thank him for the memories and showing us how to live and die with dignity and class.
Ernie Harwell was one of a kind, his memory will remain with us forever.
RIP Ernie."


FROM GPS: "'87 found us in a tight race going into August. Though the season wouldn't end for two months I had a hunch and I went to Hudson's and bought 2 tickets for the final 3 games against Toronto. All upper deck behind home plate. Sure enough the season went down to the wire.
I went to pick up my girl friend and her grandfather was there. He just had his leg amputated and was in a bad way. He started telling me stories about seeing Ruth and Cobb and all the old time greats. He really loved baseball and he told me he would be listening to the game on the radio.
About the third inning I went to the bathroom and noticed a a guy guarding the catwalk to the press box.
I went back to my seat and scribbled a note to Ernie telling him of my girlfriends grandfathers surgery and asking to please give a mention on the air...
Later on when I dropped my girlfriend off I went inside and the old guy was in tears and thanked me profusely. Ernie had mentioned his name on the air! He was genuinely touched and it really lifted his spirits.
During the next few days people he hadn't heard from in 30 years called him. They had heard Ernie mention his name and picked up the phone.
It really made a difference in that mans last few days on earth to know people remembered him and cared.
As I think back to all the times I heard Ernie send well wishes I realize how he touched the lives of so many people beyond being a great sports announcer. He was a great humanitarian as well..."


FROM STONEY: "Who will ever forget: 'he stood there like the house by the side of the road?'
Or those utterly amazing insightful words, 'and that ball will go home with a gentleman from . . . . . . '
For all the problems the Detroit area owns and the sports market having ups and downs, Detroit never lacked in broadcast talent that used to get us through the slow (dead) times and ease us into the greater times.
Thank you for making life a l ot more bearable: Ernie, George, Al, Bruce, Bud, Van . . . . old age just set in. Memory slowed down by the tears. God Bless you one and all!"


BY RICK O'DONNELL: "My favorite memory of Ernie Harwell has to be when Mike Ilitch had the good sense to bring him back to the Tigers after his predecessor made the asinine and unfathomable decision to fire Ernie. Say what you will about Ilitch, but I thought it showed tons of class (and good business intuition) to bring Ernie back. And, of course, Mr. Harwell agreed to come back, without a disparaging word against the buffoon who had foolishly let him go."


BY DIREINDEED: "Whenever I hear the name Ernie Harwell or hear his voice I think of my Dad. He was a Detroit Tiger fan his entire life and loved to watch the games on TV or listen to them on the radio and Ernie's voice is a comfort because it brings back that feeling of childhood and how wonderful things were back then. Simple, safe and sure. If only things could be that way today."


FROM ANOTHER FAN: "I think the first thing I would do at Tiger Stadium was to look through my binoculars at the WJR radio booth above home plate to see if Ernie was there in his beret. I knew all was well then, and I would tune in my radio to 760 and be mesmerized by that rich green grass in the stadium and truly enjoy the entire game."


FROM ARCHIE LEITCH: "Nothing brought home to me the good character of Ernie Harwell better than the few years after college (1978 to 1980) that I worked in Chicago. Nothing against Harry Carey and the Chicago announcers but they were too partisan for me, never making the opposition personal. Ernie just loved baseball and bragged on the opposing team player stats about as much as for the Tigers. So if Detroit happened to win, it was against a much tougher foe that we knew about than just beating the opposition. I am glad to say this trait of impartiality goes through all Tiger broadcasters. We have the best broadcasting crews because of Ernie."

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