Pam's Points: Slow justice, tax money for free speech, and nuclear reminders

Pam's Points: Slow justice, tax money for free speech, and nuclear reminders

May 5th, 2014 in Opinion Times

Where is justice?

Twice now, Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herbert "Buzz" Franklin has left families in North Georgia feeling as though justice passed them by.

The first time was several months ago when Franklin said he would not prosecute a man who shot and killed a lost Alzheimer's victim in the middle of the night on Thanksgiving Eve. Franklin made that decision even though the shooter's girlfriend implored him to wait for police because the man at the door just looked old and confused.

This time, Franklin just didn't take action. This time he stalled on the Nov. 11, 2013, shooting of a 17-year-old boy looking for scrap metal at what he thought was an abandoned house. The house wasn't vacant, and the reclusive owner with a history of brandishing guns said he fired at the boy and another young man after he told them to leave and they ran toward him.

Franklin stalled so long that the shooter, 69-year-old Fred Steven Youngblood, died in a local hospital Tuesday night according to an obituary notice.

Franklin in recent months had said he wouldn't make a decision on prosecuting the case until he had toxicology reports on the victim. But this week, he said he had the evidence but still hadn't decided whether to prosecute.

When he learned the shooter was dead, Franklin pronounced the case closed.

A grand jury may or may not have chosen to indict Youngblood. But now we'll never know.

(Not)zies not worth it

You found no words on skinheads or swastikas on this page recently, despite a demonstration that threatened to cause trouble in our town.

The group was not worth the ink. Nor were they worth the $23,000 we spent on hundreds of hours of overtime for the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and Chattanooga Police Department.

The officers did a good job, as did our own citizens. Perhaps, however, we should have just said no to their demonstration permit request and spent that money instead on legal fees as our own demonstration.

Nuclear power safe?

Twenty-eight years after a disastrous nuclear accident at the Chernobyl power plant in what was then part of the Soviet Union, the site today in Ukraine has become an international experiment in trying to contain radioactive mistakes.

Engineers there hope the construction of a vast steel shield to cover the leaky concrete ''sarcophagus'' of the highly radioactive remains will entomb deadly danger for at least 100 years. It's dubbed New Safe Confinement, and it's already almost a decade behind schedule. Now work is expected to be completed by 2017.

Meanwhile, 100-air miles southwest of Chattanooga, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission just issued a new white inspection finding against TVA for a license violation in the Brown's Ferry Nuclear Plant's radiological emergency plan.

The white finding is the lowest-level safety flag NRC issues, and this NRC action in no way indicates Browns Ferry should be categorized with Chernobyl. But Browns Ferry has a history of safety problems, including a fire that shut down one reactor there for years, as well as a recently lifted NRC "red" finding, the regulator's most serious safety flag.

Nuclear power may well be what the world will rely on to slow carbon buildup in the atmosphere while we push government to incentivize and develop cleaner, safer alternative energy.

But nuclear power cannot be taken for granted, and it is too expensive and too risky to be an ultimate answer.