It looks like the national media has found a new dangerous illegal street drug to drive hysteria, fear, and television ratings and web traffic. This time around, the drug’s name is Krokodil. Apparently, using the heroin knockoff will cause your body to either melt or be turned inside out and explode like that creature from Galaxy Quest. Yes, Galaxy Quest. What can I say, it was a long weekend.
Not wanting to be left out of the trend to over -hype a new drug and worry parents, old people and church pastors, KFOR Channel 4 posted to its Facebook Wall a link to a story on its own website that simply quotes and links to a CNN article about the drug. How would the KFOR social media gurus sensationalize the story? Would they warn that Oklahoma teens are trying the drugs while taking bath salts or dropping vodka in their eyeballs?
No, that’s too easy. They got all creative and went the crocodile – zombie route:
The Merves pictured above are Oklahoma City attorney Michael Billings and Ada bail bondsmen Robert Pierce. Earlier this week, a story dropped that Peruvian officials were investigating the men for allegedly participating in a child sex tourism ring in the Amazon rainforest town of Iquitos.
From News 9.com:
An Oklahoma City attorney and Ada bondsman are implicated in a child sex tourism scheme. Federal agents are accusing the men of traveling out of the country to have sex with children.
Michael Billings and Robert Pierce admitted they’ve been to Peru at least 30 times in the last 10 years, but only for vacation. A federal search warrant suggest otherwise.
The Peruvian Media captured agents busting in on Michael Billings and Robert Pierce at the El Dorado Plaza Hotel in Iquitos, Peru. The city is a known child sex tourism destination.
Billings and Pierce are accused of having sex with children during their many trips to Iquitos. On Sept. 22, 2013, both were detained by Peruvian authorities after agents allegedly found two girls, ages 13 and 17, inside Pierce’s room…
That seems pretty incriminating. How did they respond to the charges?
Michael Billings said in an interview off camera, the city is also nice to visit for fishing and relaxation. Billings defended himself and Pierce saying they are innocent. Billings also released the following statement:
“Robert Pierce and I were in Peru for vacation. We did not commit any illegal or immoral acts while there. The Peruvian authorities thoroughly investigated our conduct and determined that we did not commit any of these acts.”
Billings also explained he voluntarily allowed a search of his electronics while Pierce denied immediate access to his home and office. Agents seized three cell phones, cameras, and computers found in his possession.
Records show agents found pictures of a young Peruvian girl in underwear on Billings’ electronic devices.
The search warrant also indicates there’s more to the investigation including others who traveled to Peru with the two.
Billings and Pierce have not been charged in federal court.
First of all, who doesn’t have pics of young Peruvian girls in underwear stored on their electronic devices? It’s pretty common, right? Oh, you’re telling me Adrianna Lima is 32 and from Brazil? Nevermind then.
Anyway, what’s odd about this story is that it lacks any expert legal analysis from local criminal defense attorney David Slane. The guy always makes himself available to the media and specializes in defending sexual predators. I wonder why he’s not quoted in the story? Did News 9 not contact him? That’s plausible. Or, is he simply lying low because he has accompanied Billings and Pierce on some of their previous visits to Peru.
Check out this totally bizarre 2007 article from something called the IquitosTimes.com. It was sent to me by an Ogle Mole late last night. Titled “Heros of the Amazon,” it details the courageous actions of Billings, Pierce, Slane and some other guy as they saved a Peruvian village from gigantic snakes and deadly floods while repairing an orphanage.
And no, I’m not making that up.
In Sunday’s newspaper, The Oklahoman published a front page, above-the-fold story about the (totally legal) business dealings of Oklahoma County Assessor Leonard Sullivan and Oklahoma County Commission Ray Vaughn. Apparently, the two public officials do not pay any property taxes on commercial buildings they own because they lease out the space to local non-profits.
What nice guys, huh?
From a Randy Ellis report in Sunday’s paper:
2 officials’ property tax exempt
County assessor, commissioner both lease buildings to nonprofit groups
Oklahoma County Assessor Leonard Sullivan and County Commissioner Ray Vaughn both get a tax break that many Oklahomans would envy.
Sullivan and his wife receive $42,000 a year in lease payments from a commercial building in Oklahoma City they own, but pay no property taxes on the building.
Vaughn is part of a family limited liability corporation that is receiving $209,000 in lease payments over 41 months for use of an Edmond building it owns. Vaughn’s group doesn’t pay property taxes on its building, either.
And it is all perfectly legal.
What’s their secret?
Both men lease their properties to tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations…
For Sullivan and Vaughn, owning income-producing properties in Oklahoma County that are tax exempt could be politically awkward, since property taxes help pay for a majority of their office expenses and their $105,262 annual salaries. As assessor, Sullivan also is responsible for determining the market values of properties in the county for tax purposes.
Sullivan became irritated when asked about the situation.
“I’m going to give them notice tomorrow to move out of the building,” Sullivan said. “I’m doing a charity deal already and you’re trying to find a nasty story to do about me.”
So, you’re saying public officials are (legally) taking advantage of a system that they help supervise and enforce? Shocker! Maybe next week’s big Sunday story will be about energy company CEOs getting rich while legally laying off employees.
The expose didn’t sit too well with the Oklahoma “Good Ole’ Boy Network” (a.k.a. the people who The Oklahoman has historically gone out of its way to protect for 110 years). Not too long after the report was published, it mysteriously disappeared from the front of NewsOK.com. This Tuesday morning, just two days after the original article was published, the paper tucked away an apology and retraction on Page 2. It’s a new low in an impressive series of new lows for the paper that comically refers to itself as “The State’s Most Trusted News.”
Check it out:
No, that picture isn’t fake. Also, Mike Morgan, Gary England and that other dude are not about to block a free kick. They were actually receiving the Lee Allan Smith “Spirit of Oklahoma” Award (whatever that is) at their annual Associates Gala (whatever that is).
Three lifesaving meteorologists will receive the Lee Allan Smith Spirit of Oklahoma Award at Oklahoma Christian University’s Associates Gala.
The 11th-annual dinner, featuring Oklahoma City Thunder broadcaster Grant Long as the keynote speaker, will be at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m.
OC will present the Lee Allan Smith Spirit of Oklahoma Award to KWTV’s Gary England, KOCO’s Damon Lane and KFOR’s Mike Morgan for their tireless efforts to keep people safe and informed during the May tornadoes.
The award, given annually to individuals who have devoted themselves to the betterment of Oklahoma, is named for Lee Allan Smith, a tireless proponent of Oklahoma City and the state as a whole.
Previous Lee Allan Smith Spirit of Oklahoma award winners include Oklahoma City mayors Ron Norick, Kirk Humphreys and Mick Cornett, and former Oklahoma governors and first ladies George and Donna Nigh, Frank and Cathy Keating, and Brad and Kim Henry
That’s cool. It’s about time that someone else around town learned that heaping praise on local weatherman will bring visitors and attention to your obscure local university and/or website. It’s just a shame that we weren’t there to appreciate it. Clark Matthews could have read some of his dirty weather limericks and I could have shared the Gary England origin story. Seriously, how did we not get tickets to this??! We’re the authority for local weatherfolk. Who do the people at Oklahoma Christian think they are? The New York Times???
Overall, we heard the ceremony went great. There were only a few complications. The first was when the state map of Oklahoma suddenly appeared at the bottom right corner of the projection screen and alerted the audience to a flash flood watch in Roger Mills County. The second problem took place when something called a Damon Lane got lost in the moment and wet his pants on stage. You also had some hyperactive toddler and David Payne making strange, loud noises in the back of the room, but that happens at any event.
Here are some pics and tweets from the ceremony. I’m going to warn you, some of them are surreal. First, we had severe weather deity Gary England pose for a pic with Princess Snowflake Emily Sutton:
That was fast.
Before we get to why, let’s clear up one thing. KSBI is not a Spanish language channel. I know a lot of you think that, but it’s simply not the case. Also, they stopped airing gospel music and Matlock reruns several years ago. Now they focus on low-budget, locally produced programming and TV classics like Law and Order, Access Hollywood and Cash Cab. It’s a great station if you’re bored and lonely and don’t have cable.
Alex let everyone know on Facebook that she’s leaving for some new syndicated show in Dallas. Here’s the evidence:
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