PAGE 14 Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan ■
■ Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Harkin: 'Silent Majority' Back Health Reform
INDIANOLA, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin predicts Congress will approve a health care reform bill this fall that includes a public option, saying a "silent majority" of Americans favor such an overhaul. Speaking with reporters Sunday at an annual Democratic fundraiser, Harkin promised passage of a health reform measure being pushed strongly by President Barack Obama. "We will have a bill before we go home for Christmas, count on it," Harkin said. "It will have a public option." Harkin's views on health reform have grown in importance since the five-term Democrat was named chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee after the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy. Despite overwhelming Republican opposition to a government-run health insurance plan and other proposed reforms, Harkin said he was optimistic Congress would approve major changes. Harkin wouldn't speculate how many Republicans will back the measure. "How do you define bipartisan? How many Republicans do you need?" he asked. Harkin spoke with reporters during his annual steak fry, one of the Iowa Democratic Party's biggest fundraisers. About 2,000 people attended the event at the Warren County Fairgrounds, where the featured speaker was Minnesota Sen. Al Franken. Despite heated opposition to proposed health care changes during town hall meetings in August, Harkin said, selling the changes to the public would be easy. "We will do a health care bill and people will immediately know how they are being helped," he said. "As soon as the bill is passed and signed by President Obama, no longer will they be able to exclude you for preexisting conditions, no longer will there be some kind of lifetime caps, no longer will an insurance company be able to drop you if you get sick." Harkin said that despite the media attention given to vocal opponents of health care changes, most Americans still want a public option as part of the reforms. He said there's a growing sense that the political risk is for those opposing reform, not those who work with the president. "I think it's clear that a vast majority, there is a silent majority all over America that understands we need health care reform and we need it now," Harkin said.
Neb. CSI Chief Questions Evidence
Kofoed Acquitted On Federal Charges, But Hearing Set For Possible State Trial
BY JEAN ORTIZ
Associated Press Writer
PLATTSMOUTH, Neb. — The arraignment of a crime-scene investigator accused of tampering with evidence in a 2006 double-murder case was delayed Monday after his attorney contested whether there was sufficient evidence in the case. A Cass County district judge set a Sept. 28 hearing on the challenge from an attorney for Douglas County CSI commander David Kofoed. Kofoed was acquitted last week on federal charges of mail fraud, falsifying records and depriving two men charged, jailed and later cleared in the Cass County killings of their rights. The state evidence tampering charge is a felony charge punishable by up to five years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both. Both cases stem from Kofoed’s work more than three years ago investigating the
shotgun killings of Wayne and Sharmon Stock at their rural Murdock home. Matthew Livers, the Stocks’ nephew, and Nicholas Sampson were initially charged in the slayings and jailed for several months. They were exonerated after other evidence implicated a Wisconsin pair in the killings. A speck of Wayne Stock’s blood that Kofoed said he found during an April 27, 2006, search of a vehicle linked to Sampson and Livers was the only physical evidence tying them to the murders. Kofoed did not file an official report on the blood sample until May 8, 2006, and indicated the evidence also was collected that day. Special prosecutor Clarence Mock has noted Kofoed has admitted not following his own investigative protocol. Mock argued Kofoed either intentionally planted evidence using an unsealed evidence bag containing Wayne Stock’s blood-soaked shirt or wanted to make it look as if he had promptly submit-
ted the evidence. Either way he created fake documents, did it knowingly and intended for that evidence to be used in the case, Mock has said. Kofoed attorney Steve Lefler says his client made mistakes, but had no criminal intent. He argues Kofoed is an overworked, good public servant who’s become a scapegoat. The cost of the case, estimated at $100,000, is something both attorneys acknowledge. Lefler said he may have to withdraw and hand the case off to a public defender, unless he can be appointed to the position. Mock said the bill also is something he must consider. But the principles involved — protection of innocent people’s rights, handling of evidence and the like — are “far more important than the amount of money it would take to bring this prosecution,” Mock said.
TIPs Program Nets 170 Arrests In Past Year
BY WAYNE ORTMAN
Associated Press Writer
By The Associated Press Statistics from the South Dakota GF&P’s Turn In Poachers (TIPs) program. The years listed are for the 12 months ending June 30: Year 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 Investigations Arrests Rewards Paid 481 550 498 397 522 518 407 413 428 386 170 169 151 134 178 211 131 148 129 140 $6,545 $8,130 $6,900 $5,585 $5,700 $8,500 $4,850 $6,700 $7,750 $5,325
South Dakota State Reports 1st H1N1 Cases
BROOKINGS (AP) — South Dakota State University in Brookings has reported its first cases of H1N1 flu. The school says four students tested positive but one was already better by the time the case was reported. The other three are recovering at home. As of last week, 121 cases of H1N1 has been reported statewide, including three that required the person to be hospitalized. The flu is most pronounced in the young. Nearly 87 percent of the cases are in those ages 29 and under.
Corps Buys Land For Fish, Wildlife Habitat
VERMILLION (AP) — The Army Corps of Engineers has purchased 546 acres along the Missouri River near Vermillion that will be used to create wildlife and fish habitat similar to what was there before dams controlled the river’s flow. The land parcel includes 8,000 feet of shoreline. The corps has been creating backwater areas and building sandbars in that stretch of the Missouri River to duplicate terrain that existed when it was a free-flowing river. The agency said it hasn’t decided exactly how the land will be used, but says it will be for river restoration.
SIOUX FALLS — Court fines and civil penalties paid by hunting and fishing violators are approaching $1 million because of information provided anonymously through the state’s Turn In Poachers tip line in the past 24 years. Authorities opened 481 investigations and made 170 arrests through the TIPs program in the 12 months ending June 30. Violators paid $27,301 in fines and $10,600 in civil penalties. Dick Brown, a hunter and outdoorsman from Custer, said the TIPs program is important to both sportsmen and those who don’t hunt or fish. “It allows people that otherwise might not directly connect with law enforcement or conservation or conservation officers the opportunity to do it with anonymity in a way that helps us have a good ethical sporting opportunity for the public and protects the resources that belong to all the people of South Dakota,” said Brown, a former state legislator. The state Game, Fish and Parks Department offers rewards of $300 for information on big-game violations and $100 for fish or small-
Ellsworth Airman Killed In Afghanistan
RAPID CITY (AP) — An airman from Florida who was stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota has been killed in western Afghanistan, the air force announced. Staff Sgt. Bryan Berky of Melrose, Fla., died Saturday of injuries suffered in combat, one of three U.S. troops killed in an ambush. He was an explosives ordnance disposal technician assigned to the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron at Ellsworth, just outside of Rapid City. “This is a grim reminder of the important work hundreds of our airmen are doing overseas today,” 28th Bomb Wing Commander Col. Jeffrey Taliaferro said in a statement Sunday. Berky is the second Ellsworth airman who has died during operations in Afghanistan. Senior Airman Jonathan Yelner died of injuries suffered during an explosion in April 2008.
game violations. Higher rewards may be paid in unusual cases. Tipsters received $6,545 in rewards the past year. “I think that probably most of the people that call in are doing it just out of the care for the wildlife and the community,” said Charlie Wharton, TIPs coordinator within the GF&P. “There are some people that opt to take the reward and that’s an option, but a lot of people just call in because they care.” TIPs got its start in 1984 when two elk were shot and left to rot in the Black Hills. When some individuals put up a reward for infor-
mation about the case, people began calling to report other violations. TIPs went statewide in 1985 with a toll-free phone number. Since then, there have been 3,120 arrests, $118,015 in reward money and convictions resulting in $580,808 in fines and $406,543 in civil penalties.
Judges ordered defendants to serve 28,844 days in jail; all but 1,973 days have been suspended. Money for the rewards comes from donations, fundraising and court-ordered payments, Wharton said.
Neb. Officials Ask For Help Watching For TB
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — As deer hunting season gets under way, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is asking hunters for their help in monitoring the deer population for tuberculosis. Bovine TB was found earlier this year at a northern Knox County facility with a herd of captive elk and deer. The disease also was reported in a beef herd in Rock County. Subsequent testing hasn’t found additional cases of the disease. The disease typically spreads from one animal to another through the inhalation of bacteria. Experts say there is little risk of the disease being transmitted to humans. TB-infected deer may have tan or yellow lumps lining the chest cavity, in the lung tissue, or in the lymph nodes of the cheek, head and neck. ■ Get Updates At Yankton Online (www.yankton.net)
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