Thumbs up to FDA rules for pet food, down for tiff in Franklin County and court ruling that might free armed robber

November 4, 2013 

The Food and Drug Administration for proposing rules to make pet food and animal feed safer.

The rules stem from a sweeping food safety law passed by Congress almost three years ago. Like rules proposed earlier this year for human food, they would focus on preventing contamination before it begins, The Associated Press reported.

The proposed rules would require those who sell pet food and animal feed in the United States -- including importers -- to follow certain sanitation practices and have detailed food safety plans.

Six years ago, China found that two companies were guilty of intentionally exporting contaminated pet food ingredients to the United States, resulting in the deaths of thousands of pets.

The new rules are long overdue. Animal owners shouldn't have to wonder whether they're poisoning their pets.

To the Pasco School District and Franklin County commissioners recently turned up the volume on their ongoing conflict over impact fees on new construction.

During a recent commission meeting, what should have been a routine vote on a new subdivison in unincorporated Franklin County became an opportunity for each side to launch barbs at the other.

Commissioner Brad Peck accused the Pasco School District of using "strong-arm" tactics to coerce the project's developers, Dave Greeno and Big Sky Developers, into paying mitigation fees to keep the district from forcing the project to undergo a long environmental review.

Franklin County commissioners gave the go-ahead for a 44-lot subdivision to be built on 29 acres near Kohler and Burns roads northwest of Pasco but not before Peck leveled his charges, while school district spokeswoman Leslee Caul issued a statement accusing Peck of mischaracterizing the issue to give a political advantage to Republican-backed challengers in this week's school board races.

Both sides say the other's charges are unwarranted. We're more concerned about the unseemly in-fighting between two elected bodies that ought to be working together for the community's benefit. It's a disappointing spectacle.

The state's judicial system for considering whether to grant a Pasco man locked up for life under Washington's "three strikes" law his freedom after an appellate court found he was improperly charged for a 2010 convenience store robbery.

The facts aren't in dispute. In August 2010, Billy Wayne Davis and Moses C. Sanders walked into the Pasco store on Fourth Avenue and demanded the contents of the cash register.

Davis had a BB gun that was modified to look like a rifle and pointed it at clerk Michael Acton during the holdup. Sanders took $304 in bills and coins from the drawer, but claimed he gave the money to Davis before they ran out of the store.

Court records show that Davis has 10 felony convictions in Franklin and King counties dating to 1966. In addition to convictions for robbery and attempted robbery, his record includes burglary, assault, grand larceny, escape and theft.

This latest robbery conviction qualified as a third strike under state law, so Davis was sentenced to life without the possibility of early release.

However, the court sided with Davis' appellate argument that since he actually didn't take property from Acton against his will, his right to due process was violated when the trial court accepted the guilty verdict.

Yes, he pointed a gun at the clerk and demanded money, but his partner is the one who actually took the money from the drawer, so technically, Davis isn't guilty of robbery under state law. Huh?

He could have properly been found guilty of acting as an accomplice in the robbery, which also would have counted as a third strike, but that wasn't the charge.

The ruling reminds us of Mr. Bumble's famous line in Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. "The law is a ass," Bumble said.

The quotation is often cited whenever following the letter of the law defies common sense. This is surely such a case.

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