Is Principal Gregory Ellsworth a sex offender?


Editorial cartoonist John Cole comments, at his blog for The Times-Tribune:

I don’t know who’s dumber: Kids who shoot nudie pictures of themselves using their cell phones, or school officials who confiscate those phones for unrelated reasons and then rifle through them for said pictures.

John Cole, May 22, 2010While a quiet controversy continues about whether people should be haunted for life because of stupid decisions they made as a teenager, a more disturbing consideration arises out of an ACLU lawsuit filed against officials at Tunkahannock Area High School, where Principal Gregory Ellsworth is accused of confiscating student cellphones, and then searching through them in hopes of finding nude pictures of minors. David Singleton reports, for The Times-Tribune:

According to the lawsuit:

On Jan. 23, 2009, a teacher confiscated the high school student’s cell phone because she was using it on school grounds, in violation of school policy.

Later that day, she was called to Principal Gregory Ellsworth’s office. Mr. Ellsworth told her the phone had been turned over to law enforcement after he went through its contents and found “explicit” photos stored in its memory.

The photos, which were not visible on the phone’s screen and required multiple steps to locate, were never circulated to other students, the suit stated. In most of the images, the student appeared fully covered, although several showed her naked breasts and one indistinctly showed her pubic area.

The student was given and served a three day out-of-school suspension. According to the district’s student handbook, the first offense for cell phone misuse is a 90-minute Saturday detention and the confiscation of the phone for the rest of the day.

A few days later, the student and her mother met with David Ide, chief county detective in the district attorney’s office, who told them he had seen the photos and sent the phone to a crime lab in Delaware.

The suit alleges that when the mother stepped away, Detective Ide told the student it was a shame she had not waited until after her 18th birthday in April 2009 because, instead of getting into trouble, she could have submitted the photos to Playboy magazine. He suggested the student contact him, winking as he said, “I’ll get you your phone back,” according to the complaint.

Shortly after, the student and her mother received a letter from Mr. Skumanick threatening felony child pornography charges if the student did not complete a five-week re-education course on sexual violence and victimization. The student paid a fee of about $100 and took the course to avoid prosecution.

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Scenes: Battle Damage Assessment


File under, “Ouch”. And then visit Milt Priggee:

Milt Priggee via Cagle

If the above makes no sense, just skip it. There is no law that says everything must make sense to you.

Or go read “Waterloo“, by former American Enterprise Institute fellow David Frum.

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Notes On the Health Care Battle: Dust and Smoke


Only vague first impressions; it’s difficult to get any real perspective while so much dust and smoke hangs in the air after the conflagration.

Paul Krugman, before the vote:

Adam Zyglis via CagleSo what’s the reality of the proposed reform? Compared with the Platonic ideal of reform, Obamacare comes up short. If the votes were there, I would much prefer to see Medicare for all.

For a real piece of passable legislation, however, it looks very good. It wouldn’t transform our health care system; in fact, Americans whose jobs come with health coverage would see little effect. But it would make a huge difference to the less fortunate among us, even as it would do more to control costs than anything we’ve done before.

This is a reasonable, responsible plan. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Republican David Frum on the political fallout:

At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994.

Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.

This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.

Kirk Walters via CagleCould a deal have been reached? Who knows? But we do know that the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big. The Obama plan has a broad family resemblance to Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan. It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994.

Barack Obama badly wanted Republican votes for his plan. Could we have leveraged his desire to align the plan more closely with conservative views? To finance it without redistributive taxes on productive enterprise – without weighing so heavily on small business – without expanding Medicaid? Too late now. They are all the law.

No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal?

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