Outrage 1: Forgotten child abuse case
How does anyone forget about the criminal case of a man accused of smothering his 6-month-old son?
That's apparently what the prosecutors in Catoosa County, Ga., did -- for nearly eight years.
Alfred Jackson Alexander Sr., then 26, was indicted in December 2004 for allegedly smothering his crying son Eligah Lee Alexander with a pillow in the family's mobile home near Ringgold. In October 2005, a jury found the man guilty of child cruelty -- and not guilty of malice murder -- but the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on a felony murder charge. The jury split 11 to 1, resulting in a mistrial.
Alexander served five years in prison on the child cruelty charge and was paroled in June 2009.
When prosecutors with the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit realized last spring that the felony murder charge was never retried, they added the case to the Catoosa County Superior Court's September 2013 trial calendar. But Alexander's public defender asked for a dismissal, citing Alexander's 6th Amendment right to a speedy trial, and Judge Ralph Van Pelt ruled in his favor.
The DA's office appealed, but this week the Georgia Supreme Court upheld Van Pelt's decision.
The high court said six years of the delay was due to "the negligent inaction" of the district attorney's office. Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herbert "Buzz" Franklin said he was disappointed by the Georgia Supreme Court's decision. "We think the trial court should have been reversed," he said.
We are disappointed -- no, outraged -- with Franklin, and we think it is his future in the prosecutor's office that should be reversed.
Outrage 2:Seniors below average
Tennessee's high school seniors have tested below-average in math and reading.
The average reading score of Tennessee seniors on a national test was 282, five points lower than the national average of 287. In math, Tennessee seniors scored 145, compared to 152 nationally.
Those scores contrast starkly with the stellar performance of younger Tennessee students. In the National Assessment of Education Progress our fourth- and eighth-graders led the nation in academic improvement in reading and math.
The common denominator of this disconnect is Common Core.
"The fourth- and eighth-graders have gone through school most of the way with [Common Core's] higher standards in place, and the 12th-graders haven't," said Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. "We've got to upgrade the rigor of the classes and make sure that all kids have access ... to rigorous classes."
He's right. One of the main objectives of the Common Core standards -- which have been adopted to some degree by 45 states -- is to provide students with the critical thinking, problem-solving and writing skills needed for college and the workforce.
Tennessee was an early adopter of the program, and it already has been phased in at elementary and middle school level, but in April the Tennessee General Assembly buckled to conservative criticism that Common Core represents a "federal takeover" of schools. They stalled the Common Core program.
Outrage 3:Recall reflux
It certainly was convenient for petitioners of City Councilman Chris Anderson's recall to sign their names in alphabetical order on some petition pages. It was equally convenient that many of the names were signed in the same pretty, bubble cursive handwriting -- handwriting that didn't match the same names signed on those citizens' voter registration cards.
Largely, the petitioners pushing and signing recall pages to oust Chattanooga's first openly gay council member were conservatives. And conservatives are always the first to scream voter fraud and the first to seek tougher voter ID laws.
Yet Hamilton County Election Commission officials said they tossed out hundreds of what appeared to be falsified signatures on the petitions.
The only outrage that might be worse than falsified signatures would be if no one is prosecuted.