Deaf, Dumb and Blind Justice: Thomas Is Wrong on Tribal Sovereignty

Mark C. Van Norman

July 14, 2013 ICTMN

In the Baby Veronica case, Associate Supreme Court Justice Thomas writes that the Indian Child Welfare Act is unconstitutional because it is not “commerce” in the sense of “trade.” Domestic relations, he says, are left to the states. When it comes to American Indians, Native Nations and the Constitution, Thomas is wrong. The Constitution’s Treaty, Commerce, Supremacy, Apportionment and Property Clauses, the War Powers, and the 14thAmendment are the foundation for the Indian affairs powers and the United States’ nation-to-nation relations with Native Nations.

The starting point for analysis is always: Indian nations and tribes were independent, sovereign nations prior to the formation of the United States. Indian nations managed native justice systems, economies, education, health care, and domestic relations. In the earliest Indian treaties, the United States extended its protection to Indian nations—for example, the Cherokee Nation Treaty of 1785 provides that: “[t]he Indians for themselves and their respective tribes … do acknowledge all the Cherokees to be under the protection of the United States of America, and of no other sovereign whosoever.” The United States intended this provision to oust the British from North America, yet it must be read as the Cherokee Nation would have understood it—a pledge of protection for the Native Nation, not U.S. dictatorship, tyranny or despotism. Thomas Jefferson recognized that Native Nations were governed by native traditions, customs, and laws.

The Articles of Confederation, America’s original governing document, provides that:


The United States in Congress assembled shall also have the sole and exclusive right and power of … regulating the trade and managing all affairs with the Indians, not members of any of the States, provided that the legislative right of any State within its own limits be not infringed or violated.

Articles of Confederation, Art. XI (Passed by Continental Congress 1777, ratified 1781–1789). In practice, this allocation of power was not practical because the grant of authority to Congress was too qualified and the states continued to claim concurrent power over Indian affairs. The weakness of the Indian Affairs power was exemplary of the overall problems for the United States under the Articles of Confederation. This provision does not inform the Constitution by reserving state’s rights in the field of Indian affairs.

General George Washington chaired the Constitutional Convention, and contrary to Justice Thomas’s suggestion, he did not carry forward the Articles of Confederation. In partnership with Franklin, Jefferson and others, Washington and his party of Federalists, Jay, Hamilton, and Madison, rewrote the Constitution to ensure the success of the United States of America as one Nation. Washington made sure that the Federal Government had plenary authority—vis-à-vis the states—over Indian affairs (and other areas of Federal authority). Washington sought to forestall brushfire wars along the United States border because he knew that American citizens, who encroached on Indian lands and “endangered” the peace of the Union by violating Indian treaties, started Indian wars.

Accordingly, the Constitution says simply, “Congress shall have the power to regulate Commerce … with the Indian Tribes,” and state laws that are contrary to Federal law are preempted by the Supremacy Clause. Thomas’s broadside notwith-standing, this is not the only font of Federal authority concerning government-to-government relations with Indian nations and tribes. The United States negotiated 17 treaties under the Articles of Confederation prior to the Constitution, and 10 of those were treaties with Indian Nations (Cherokee Nation, Choctaw Nation, Six Nations). The Constitution affirms those treaties already made, including the treaty pledges of protection for Indian nations. The Constitution also authorizes new treaties. The Constitution, through the Treaty and Supremacy Clauses, recognizes Indian nations and tribes as prior sovereigns, with authority to enter treaties and those treaties reserved tribal self-governance over Indian lands and tribal citizens. Over 370 Indian treaties were entered under the Treaty Clause. The Apportionment Clause expressly excludes tribal citizens from direct taxation and congressional apportionment as “Indians not taxed.” Our people were citizens of our own Native Nations, not the United States.

As Chairman of the Constitutional Convention, Washington is a reliable guide to the Constitution’s meaning. In 1790, one year after its ratification, President Washington entered the Treaty with the Creek Nation, guaranteeing Creek territory, pledging protection, promoting justice, agriculture, and civilization. With regard to the “beloved” Cherokee Nation, President Washington exhorted them to undertake agriculture, sell their surplus to their white neighbors, gather in national council and send delegates to Congress, expressing their priorities and concerns.

Jefferson’s legacy is the Louisiana Purchase. In the 1803 Louisiana Purchase Treaty, the United States pledged to honor the international treaties with Indian nations, until such time as the United States by “mutual consent” entered its own treaties. Under Jefferson’s leadership, the United States passed laws for Indian traders, Indian education, and restricted liquor sales. Later, Indian treaties included provisions for tribal territorial integrity, self-government, agriculture, allotment of lands, education, health care, “civilization.” Domestic relations were addressed through treaties, when non-Indian husbands of Indian women were included in allotment of tribal lands and crimes between Indians were reserved to tribal self-government. Indian children were often sent far from home to military boarding schools, like Carlisle School in Pennsylvania, or educated in government boarding schools on Indian reservations. InUnited States v. Quiver(1916), the Supreme Court explained that:


At an early period it became the settled policy of Congress to permit the personal and domestic relations of the Indians with each other to be regulated, and offenses by one Indian against the person or property of another Indian to be dealt with, according to their tribal customs and laws. Thus the Indian intercourse acts of 1796 and 1802 provided for the punishment of various offenses by white persons against Indians and by Indians against white persons, but left untouched those by Indians against each other.


After 90 years of Indian treaty-making, Congress promulgated, and the states ratified, the 14thAmendment. Congress intended to make freed slaves citizens through the Citizenship Clause, but intentionally excluded the citizens of Indian nations from U.S. Citizenship. Native people were not “subject to” the jurisdiction of the United States, as required by the new Clause. Our people were subject to tribal government jurisdiction.

When the 14thAmendment removed the constitutional reference to slavery (3/5s of other persons) and counted “All persons, excluding Indians not taxed,” the political status of tribal citizens was affirmed. Under the Indian Peace Policy of the post-Civil War era, the United States entered into over 70 Indian treaties while the 14thAmendment was considered and ratified. By repeating the original language of the Constitution, the 14thAmendment should be read to affirm the original Indian affairs powers of the United States. In this way, the Nation approved an expansive view of the Indian affairs power and the government-to-government relationship between the United States and Indian nations.

The Supreme Court has found that the War Powers are also among the Indian affairs powers because the United States, having made war on Indian nations, also had the power to make peace. Indeed, President Washington put Secretary of War Knox in charge of treaty-making with the Cherokee Nation in 1790. The Department of War was the original home of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The United States destroyed traditional tribal economies and disrupted our Indian communities by warfare, so the United States has the power to assist Indian nations in restoring tribal economies and Indian communities. (Think of the Marshall Plan.) And, under the Constitution’s Property Clause, the United States, having taken original Indian lands as “surplus” and having claimed title over remaining Indian lands to protect them against alienation, also had the power to restore Indian lands.

In his Baby Veronica opinion, Thomas would have us believe that because no furs, beads or kettles, hatchets or guns were traded, the Indian Child Welfare Act is unconstitutional. His view ignores the history of the United States relations with Indian nations, the Constitution’s text, treaties, statutes, and a rich body of Supreme Court precedent. As Chief Justice Marshall said in the 1830s Cherokee Nation cases, the duty to protect is not a license to destroy. Where the United States pledged through treaties (affirmed by the 14thAmendment) to protect Indian nations, Congress now has the power to protect our Indian children so they, as our future citizens, are not stripped away from our Indian nations.

Under the Constitution, it is well within Congress’s power to protect Indian families and children through the Indian Child Welfare Act. Justice Thomas is just plain wrong when he says otherwise.

Mark C. Van Norman is the Executive Director for the National Indian Gaming Association.

Good idea, but not in our neighborhood

Posted: 07/14/2013 1:55 pm



Huffington Post

By Tim Giago 
Founder, Native American Journalists Association

If you are Native American and you have lived in Rapid City for any length of time, the actions of the Department of Parks and Recreation Advisory Board last Thursday would have come as no surprise.
After two previous meetings, the board finally voted 4 – 3 to deny Native Americans the opportunity to place four bronze busts of famous Native Americans in Rapid City’s Halley Park.

I felt from the moment I entered the arena of the old Sioux Indian Museum at Halley Park that we were about to face a rigged and forgone conclusion of a decision. That feeling just hung in the air. The board saw to it that five of the grandchildren of Mr. James Halley, for whom the park was named, were present. It was almost as if they collectively brought a feeling of “Oh my God; they are trying to place the busts of Indians in our precious park.”

Most of the people standing up in opposition to the plan were folks who lived in the park neighborhood. To a person they said, “Oh, the idea is a really good one, but not in our neighborhood.” One elderly lady almost uttered the racist words that seemed to be on the minds of those people opposed to the project. She said, “I’ve lived in Rapid City for 70 years and if they put those statues there the next thing you know . . . . . . . . Oh, I can’t even find the words.” Every Indian in the place knew the words. They were, “The next thing you know there will be a bunch of drunken Indians panhandling and dirtying up the park in our precious neighborhood.”

Actually the idea of the Sculpture Garden of Native Americans was hatched by the longtime activist and professor, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, a member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. She wanted to place the busts of accomplished Native Americans like Vine Deloria, Jr., a noted Indian author, Oscar Howe, one of the great Indian artists of our time, Charles Eastman, an author and physician, and the famous holy man Black Elk, in the park to show the rest of the world that we (Native Americans) had intelligent, professional scholars and artistic members in our history who seldom make it into the history and text books of non-Native America.

At a previous meeting a few months back Cook-Lynn was quoted as speaking of “little white girls” and this comment set off board member Jeff Schild. His impression of one of the ‘good ole boys,’ intentional or not, was right on. His efforts at making light of a serious proposal were embarrassing to some of the other board members and definitely to all of the Native Americans in attendance.

Mr. Schild made it his goal to attack and embarrass the elderly Dakota woman, Liz Cook-Lynn. “I didn’t like your comment about little white girls because I have two daughters of my own and Oh yes; I’m of Russian and German descent.” Retorted Liz, “Well you folks refer to our children as ‘little Indians,’ so what’s the difference? But Schild kept jabbing away until he forced an apology from Cook-Lynn. It seems that his attacks upon Cook-Lynn were his only reason for showing up that night and his obvious opposition to the proposal to place the statues in Halley Park was secondary.

For more than 50 years the Sioux Indian Museum was located in the very park Cook-Lynn selected for the Sculpture Garden of Native Americans. The lame excuse that by placing the statues in the park would create traffic problems was repeated over and over and the proven fact that the Sioux Museum never caused traffic problems in all of the years it shared the park was never mentioned.

The placing of the Indian statues in the park would then become a “destination” according to Mr. Schild, Nick Stroot and Chuck Tinant, three of the board members who voted against the plan. “The location is a big concern,” they almost chimed in unison. And they could have added, yes, my dear little Indians, it’s a good idea, but not in our neighborhood.

There are statues of past white American presidents on nearly every street corner in downtown Rapid City. Are they also considered a “destination” because there is certainly a lot of traffic passing through downtown? No, they are more of a distraction than a destination.

We ask Elizabeth Cook-Lynn to stick to her guns and don’t give up the fight. Discouragement is the first roadblock to accomplishment.

The next step of the Four Nations Sculpture Park Corporation will be to take the fight to the newly elected, second-term mayor, Sam Kooiker. As Mr. Schild would probably say in his best impression of one of the “good ole boys,” There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

(Tim Giago can be reached at

School Policies Reduce Student Drinking – if They’re Perceived to be Enforced

By Doree Armstrong | University of Washington 07/09/2013 10:39:00

 “Just say no” has been many a parent’s mantra when it comes to talking to their children about drugs or alcohol. Schools echo that with specific policies against illicit use on school grounds. But do those school policies work?

University of Washington professor of social work Richard Catalano and colleagues studied whether anti-alcohol policies in public and private schools in Washington state and Australia’s Victoria state were effective for eighth- and ninth-graders.

What they found was that each school’s particular policy mattered less than the students’ perceived enforcement of it. So, even if a school had a suspension or expulsion policy, if students felt the school didn’t enforce it then they were more likely to drink on campus. But, even if a school’s policy was less harsh – such as requiring counseling – students were less likely to drink at school if they believed school officials would enforce it.

“Whatever your school policy is, lax enforcement is related to more drinking,” Catalano said.

The study was published recently in the journal Health Education Research.

The results were similar in Washington, where the legal drinking age is 21 and schools tend to have a zero-tolerance approach, and Victoria, Australia, where the legal drinking age is 18 and policies are more about minimizing harm.

In the study, 44 percent of Victoria eighth-graders and 22 percent of Washington eighth-graders reported drinking alcohol. Victoria students also reported higher rates of binge drinking and alcohol-related harms.

Apart from perceptions about enforcement, harmful behaviors in both states were reduced when students believed policy violators would likely be counseled by a teacher on the dangers of alcohol use, rather than expelled or suspended.

“Schools should focus on zero tolerance and abstinence in primary and early middle school, but sometime between middle school and high school they have to blend in zero tolerance with harm minimization,” said Catalano, director of the Social Development Research Group at the UWSchool of Social Work and principal investigator for the International Youth Development Study. “By the time they get into high school they need new strategies.”

Those strategies could include talking to a teacher or being referred to treatment. The likelihood of binge drinking was reduced if students received an abstinence alcohol message or a harm minimization message, and if they believed teachers would talk to them about the dangers of alcohol. Catalano said such remediation policies are an important predictor of less alcohol use among ninth-graders.

He said the study shows harsh punishment for drinking on school grounds, such as calling the police or expelling the student, doesn’t inhibit alcohol use on campus. Instead, long-term negative impacts of expulsion mean students feel disconnected from school and may subsequently drink more. Calling the police, which gives the student a police record, appears to make things even worse.

“What we’ve seen in other studies from this sample is suspension policies actually worsen the behavior problem,” Catalano said. “What that says to me is, although you want policies and you want enforcement of policies, there are other ways of responding than suspension, expulsion and calling the police: Getting a student to talk to a teacher about how alcohol might be harmful, or a session with the school counselor.”

The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug AbuseNational Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, and Victorian Government’s Operational Infrastructure Support Program. Co-authors are Todd Herrenkohl of the UW, lead author Tracy Evans-Whipp and Stephanie Plenty ofRoyal Children’s Hospital in Victoria, Australia, and John Toumbourou of Deakin University in Australia.

Source: University of Washington

Native bee species spotted for first time since ’90s

Bee enthusiasts beat the bushes Sunday to see if the colony of rare insects is still active, and biologists are planning conservation efforts.

By Sandi Doughton

Seattle Times science reporter

Courtesy of Will Peterman / Copyright 2013

Courtesy of Will Peterman / Copyright 2013

Will Peterman snapped the “Bigfoot” shot July 7: a blurred image of a creature so rare that many experts feared it had been wiped out in Washington.

But even out of focus, there was no mistaking the feature that distinguishes the Western bumblebee from other species in the Northwest.

“White butt,” Peterman explained.

On Tuesday, he returned to the tiny park in Brier, northeast of Seattle, where he took the first picture. This time, he captured a sharp portrait of a fat, fuzzy, white-bottomed Bombus occidentalisforaging in a blackberry hedge.

“There was some shouting,” Peterman said, recalling his excitement. On Sunday, he and a group of biologists and bee enthusiasts from the University of Washington made a more systematic sweep through the park and nearby areas.

The group didn’t locate the colony’s nest, but they did spot a solitary queen.

“We got scads more pictures,” Peterman said.

The discovery of what may be the only population of Western bumblebees in the state has raised hopes that the species could be making a comeback.

“The best case scenario is that this turns out to be a strain … that’s actually resistant to whatever it is that knocked them back in the first place,” Peterman said.

But even if the bees in Brier are just a remnant population, the find is significant, said biologist Rich Hatfield, of the Oregon-based Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “We can target conservation efforts on the ground; we can get people in that area to create habitat and to keep an eye out for them.”

Western bumblebees were once among the most common bumblebees in the Western United States. Then they began to vanish in the mid-1990s.

No one knows for sure what is killing the species, but the decline coincides with the development of commercial bumblebee-breeding programs. Breeders sold colonies to tomato farmers in the United States and Europe. (bumblebees are the only native pollinators for tomatoes.)

Scientists at the University of California, Davis hypothesize that some of the bees shipped to Europe picked up a gut parasite called Nosema bombi. When infected queens were shipped back to the U.S., the infection could have spread quickly through bumblebee populations with no native immunity.

Bees are also vulnerable to a wide range of pesticides.

“Nobody has seen Bombus occidentalis in Seattle since the mid-1990s,” said Peterman, a writer, photographer and self-described bee nerd.

The first sighting in more than a decade came from Brier resident Megan O’Donald, who spotted one of the bees in her mother’s garden last summer and reported it to the Xerces Society. The insects returned this year, and O’Donald said she saw one Sunday on a goldenrod plant.

When Peterman heard about the earlier sightings, he decided to launch a bee-hunting expedition. Using Google Earth, he identified several patches of likely habitat — mostly small parks or unmown lots. At the fourth site on his list, he got lucky.

The colony, which is located underground, may be shutting down for the season. In late summer, after the broods are raised, the bees that will develop into the next season’s queens start gorging on nectar in preparation for their winter hibernation.

“Probably all we can do now is let the bees continue their cycle and go back next spring,” said UW biology instructor Evan Sugden, who joined the hunt on Sunday.

Later this summer, the Xerces Society is launching a citizen science project that will recruit people across North America to monitor bumblebee populations, Hatfield said. A lot of attention has been paid to the decline of non-native honeybees and the mysterious killer called colony-collapse disorder, but new studies show that many bumblebees are in serious trouble, too.

Bumblebees are key pollinators for many plants because they start work early in the spring and stay on the job when the weather is too cool and cloudy for honeybees.

“If we start to lose species from our landscape,” Hatfield said, “there will be economic consequences.”

Sandi Doughton at: 206-464-2491 or

Turning Stone Guests Set GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS Mark for Creating Largest Human Playing Card

600 Verified Participants Form the Ace of Diamonds

Human-Playing-Card-v.2Source: Madison County Courier, Guinness World Records

(Verona, NY – July 13, 2013) A new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS mark was set Saturday July 13 as 600 guests at Turning Stone Resort Casino’s Event Center formed the largest human playing card on record.  The fun, unique event was part of Turning Stone’s month-long 20th Anniversary Celebration.

Participants wore either a white or red rain poncho and were directed into position to form a human version of the ace of diamonds playing card.  Once in full position, the participants had to remain in place for five minutes.  Saturday’s event was the first time Turning Stone hosted a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS Official Attempt.

Oneida Nation Representative and Nation Enterprises CEO Ray Halbritter said, “Turning Stone has set a world standard in excellence, so it only makes sense that we set a world record while having fun celebrating our 20th Anniversary.”

Saturday’s effort becomes the first GUINESS WORLD RECORDS Official Attempt in the category – largest human playing card.  The GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS management team required a minimum of 250 participants to create this new category.  The new record will be registered in the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS database and be eligible for inclusion in the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS annual book.

GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS adjudicator Philip Robertson was at Turning Stone Saturday to verify the new record.  According to Robertson, five participants left the judging area before the five minute verifying period began, which made the final tally of official participants register at an even total of 600.

Robertson said, “Turning Stone Resort Casino has set a great benchmark, and did a fantastic job managing the crowd, which is critical, while making the event fun and engaging for the guests.  To create something as visually interesting as a giant playing card clearly fit our criteria to be approved as a new category.”

Internet Poker Freedom Act Aims for Federal Regulation

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

Late July 11, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) introduced legislation to license and regulate online poker—and not other forms of online gambling, reported

While a 2011 Justice Department decision opened doors for states to permit online gambling within their borders, the Internet Poker Freedom Act would allow sites to operate nationally. The bill, which would give states the opportunity to opt out of the federal system, would require poker websites to be licensed, technology to bar underage players and programs to help compulsive gamblers.

The bill references the United States v. DiCristina ruling, which recognized poker as a game of skill, reported

The Act states: “There is uncertainty about the laws of the United States governing Internet poker, though not about laws governing Internet sports betting. In United States v. DiCristina a Federal District Court for the Eastern District of New York held that poker is a game in which skill is the predominant factor in determining the outcome and that in passing the Illegal Gambling Businesses Act, Congress only intended to criminalize clear games of chance.



Birth Mother Speaks in Baby Veronica Case: Analysis

Suzette Brewer, Indian Country Today Media Network

After years of silence surrounding the failed attempt to put up her biological child for adoption, Christine Maldonado finally went public with an editorial on custodial placement in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl in Friday’s Washington Post. By rehashing outdated talking points, Maldonado has reanimated her position as the central figure in a case that has pitted Veronica’s biological father, Dusten Brown, against a pre-adoptive couple in an epic crucible over race, class, tribal membership and father’s rights.

Following the United States Supreme Court ruling last month, which held that a specific section of the Indian Child Welfare Act did not apply, but the rest of the Act remained intact and in force, attorneys for Dusten Brown in both Oklahoma and South Carolina moved swiftly and decisively to follow the directions and guidance of what the court did—and did not—elaborate on in their decision to remand the case back to the lower courts for further review.

Meanwhile, the Capobianco’s camp, continuing a pattern of behavior prior to the Supreme Court hearing, again released court records regarding the juvenile matter to Andrew Knapp, a reporter for the Charleston Post and Courier, though requests to release the same records to Indian Country Today Media Network were denied by the South Carolina Supreme Court because the case is sealed under state law.

But since the contents of the documents are now in the public sphere, it appears that events unfolded quickly after the Supreme Court issued its ruling on June 25. On July 1, Brown and his wife, Robin, jointly filed for custody, adoption and guardianship in Nowata County, Oklahoma. The following day, his parents, Tommy and Alice Brown also filed a motion with the District Court of the Cherokee Nation as a certified adoptive placement preference of their granddaughter, in the event that Brown’s parental rights are terminated.

Under the law, however, the Indian Child Welfare Act is still applicable in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl and must be followed regarding adoptive placement preference with either family members or fellow tribal members in the event a parent is found unfit or their rights are terminated, according to Indian law experts.

Beating the Capobiancos to the punch, on Wednesday, July 3, Brown’s attorneys in South Carolina also filed a motion to remand the case back down to the family court in Charleston for a fulsome review and evaluation of all parties and current conditions. They argue that Veronica has been with her “fit and loving” biological father and her stepmother as part of an intact family for the last 18 months, therefore necessitating an updated determination of the “best interest” doctrine commonly used throughout the United States.

Also at issue is whether or not South Carolina should retain jurisdiction at this juncture in the case, considering that Veronica, her biological father and stepmother, her grandparents, siblings, cousins, friends, healthcare providers, et al, are domiciled in Oklahoma. The Capobiancos are the only parties in the case who live in South Carolina. Therefore, experts say it beggars belief that a South Carolina Court could even make a best interest custodial placement there, since the entire family and all the relevant experts reside in another jurisdiction, which would exact an enormous logistical and financial burden on all of the parties.

Bringing up the rear, the Capobiancos closed out the first week of July by filing a motion for immediate judgment with the South Carolina Supreme Court on Friday, July 5, which means in plain English that Dusten Brown’s rights would be immediately terminated, and Veronica would be transferred back to the pre-adoptive couple. In anticipation of such a ruling, the Capobiancos have offered a “transition plan” to the court in which they would move to Oklahoma to assist with Veronica’s transition back to South Carolina.

Legal experts, however, say that because the case has likely reverted back to a “best interest analysis,” it would be highly unusual that the court would strip Brown’s custody without a comprehensive and thorough review of all the evidence accrued since Veronica left South Carolina in December 2011.

Which brings the subject back to Maldonado’s editorial in Friday’s Washington Post. In her prose, she returned yet again to the infamous “text message” in which she claimed Dusten Brown “renounced” his parental rights, disregarding not only the fact that parental rights cannot be terminated via text message (even though Brown has repeatedly asserted that was never his intent), but also that that specific text message was ruled inadmissible.

Judge Deborah Malphrus refused to admit it into evidence unless the phone and the entire conversation was produced. Subsequently, the phone, which had been locked away in a safe, mysteriously went “missing” the next day at court. And along with it, the full transcript of what actually transpired between Maldonado and Brown.

Therefore, say family law experts, the “text message” that was used against Brown is without context and is therefore irrelevant to the current situation on the ground and further court proceedings that are no doubt getting ready to happen—whether they occur in South Carolina or are ceded to Oklahoma.

Additionally, it ignores the South Carolina’s Supreme Court’s written finding that both she and the Capobiancos twisted the facts and the strained the limits of truth to fit their legal strategy in attempting to terminate Dusten Brown’s parental rights to push the adoption through without his approval or consent. Finally, it is a miraculous recovery of her memory of events that she could not seem to recall, based on her own previous court-recorded testimony.

“The optics of this case are very clear,” says one legal scholar who asked not to be identified because the case is ongoing. “This is a mother who very early on decided that she did not want this child. So it strains the imagination that this entitles her to abrogate the father’s parental rights to his daughter simply because of her personal issues with him. At some point, this case has to be about what’s in Veronica’s best interest, and unfortunately, it’s become about winning.”



GED clock is ticking

Mark Mulligan / The HeraldVanessa Miller, 22, questions instructor Jennifer Jennings during her GED class Thursday at Everett Community College.

Mark Mulligan / The Herald
Vanessa Miller, 22, questions instructor Jennifer Jennings during her GED class Thursday at Everett Community College.

Erc Stevick, The Herald

EVERETT — It feels like a high-stakes game of Chutes and Ladders for thousands of people trying to improve their lives by earning a GED.

Their academic climb could slide into nothingness at the end of the year.

The five-subject national exam is getting an overhaul Jan. 1.

That gives less than six months for those hoping to pass the old version.

If they don’t pass each and every subject between now and then, they must start from scratch with a new set of exams that are expected to be harder.

There is urgency but not panic these days on the second floor of Everett Community College’s Baker Hall, where two rooms of mainly 20-somethings are trying to make up for lost time and missed opportunity.

One morning last week, EvCC instructor Jennifer Jennings led her students through a multi-step math problem that involved credit cards, percentages and interest rates. For most of the students, math is their biggest obstacle between now and the new year deadline.

Jennings remembers the last time the GED was changed in 2001 and the long lines at the college’s testing center.

“It was crazy,” she said.

The General Education Development certificate was started in 1942 to allow returning World War II GIs to continue their education when they came home. It was designed to show that they had earned basic academic skills many consider the equivalent of a high school diploma. People not in the military were able to start taking the GED in 1947.

Roughly 20 million people have earned GEDs over the years.

With the change in exams approaching, test preparation programs, such as ones at Everett Community College, are bracing for heavy enrollment through the fall.

Lanora Toth, 21, attended five high schools, but didn’t graduate. Life has been a struggle for the young mother who said she once held a cardboard sign at a street corner. It read, “Cold, homeless and hungry.”

Her goal in pursuing her GED is simple: to provide a better home and set an example for her young child.

Classmate Vanessa Miller nodded as Toth spoke.

“I want to give my 1-year-old the life I never had,” she said.

Skyy Sepulveda dropped out of Mountlake Terrace High School in her junior year when she fell hopelessly behind on credits. She took a GED class a year ago and didn’t finish. It stung a bit to see her classmates earn their certificates and that has motivated her this time around.

She said she is studying more than ever.

“It’s really nerve-wracking to get everything done,” she said.

Since 2009, more than 3,900 people have gone through EvCC’s GED programs and taken all or portions of the exam. More than 2,900 have passed.

Over the last four years alone, that leaves 1,016 others who must reach the finish line between now and Jan. 1 or start anew. Nationwide, there are about 1 million people whose scores could expire Jan. 1 under the new testing program.

“We want people to know that these changes are really happening and they are happening soon and to get all their ducks in a row,” said Katie Jensen, EvCC’s dean of basic and developmental education.

College officials are reaching out through fliers, letters, word of mouth and mention on the reader board at the college’s Broadway entrance.

These days, GED testing is done by appointment and Jensen warns that prospective exam takers should not procrastinate getting ready.

“I think our testing times are going to fill up,” she said.

Instead of five sections, the new GED test will be reconfigured into four: reasoning through language arts, mathematical reasoning, science and social studies. The existing stand-alone essay section will be folded into writing assessments within the language arts and social studies sections, It also will all be done on the computer.

Jessica Cleveland, 25, is a mother of three who quit school after the eighth grade. She hopes she never has to see the new GED exams.

“It scares me,” she said. “I want to be done by then.”

Cleveland has worked in coffee stands and at a pizza restaurant, but believes she needs a GED to get a foot in the door for better-paying opportunities.

“I want an education so my kids have a good role model to look up to, so they don’t drop out of high school and can see where I went wrong,” she said.

Devona Fields, 31, is married and has three children.

As they get older, she hopes to find a job to help with family expenses and figures a GED could be a big help.

Fields has passed two of the five GED exams.

Her husband, Wilson Fields, recently earned his GED and is taking pre-college math to prepare for college courses.

Wilson Fields tries to encourage Devona with each subject she passes.

Devona resists patting herself on the back.

She still must get through the math test, which gives her anxiety.

“I will cheer and celebrate when I have all the scores back,” she said.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446;

About the GED

To learn more about GED preparation help at Everett Community College, call 425-388-9291 or email

For opportunities at Edmonds Community College, call 425-670-1593 or email

Traffic Revision on Marine Drive

Two upcoming construction projects will affect traffic on Marine Drive in Marysville between I-5 and the Quilceda Creek Bridge. Both are Snohomish Public Works Projects.

Sidewalk ramps on the north side of Marine Drive will be upgraded to current American with Disabilities Act standards at 31st Avenue NE and 33rd Avenue NE. Work will begin on Monday, July 15, and will require single lane closures between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day, Monday through Friday, for up to two weeks.

Marine Drive will be paved from I-5 west to the Quilceda Creek Bridge. Cemex is this year’s contractor for the county’s overlay program. The work will require coordination with several cities. The schedule is not yet finalized, but work is likely to begin after August 19 and last for approximately three days, weather permitting. All work will take place between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.. Single lane closures will be in affect. A variable message sign will notify citizens one week before the project begins.

Access to businesses will remain open at all times, and construction crews will make every effort to minimize the impacts.

We ask for your patience during construction. Thank you!

For information about this and other projects that may affect travel on county roads, visit or email questions and comments to



Lake Washington sockeye count nears 150,000

People flock to see returning sockeye at The Ballard Locks fish viewing window

People flock to see returning sockeye at The Ballard Locks fish viewing window

Mark Yuasa, The Seattle Times

The Lake Washington sockeye counts remain steady, and show no sign of dropping for now.

The updated run size of 147,240 sockeye through Thursday, July 11, is now just a little less than 7,000 fish ahead of the 2006 run during this same time frame, which was the last time a sport fishery was held in the large urban watershed. The preseason forecast this summer was 96,866.

The peak return time is usually between July 4 and July 12.

Last summer’s return of 145,815 shattered the preseason forecast of 45,871, and more than 20-million fry were released into the lake earlier this spring.

State Fish and Wildlife met Thursday (July 11) via a conference call with Muckleshoot, Suquamish and Tulalip tribal fisheries managers to review the Lake Washington sockeye run. The plan is to discuss the sockeye situation very soon with state Fish and Wildlife director Phil Anderson.

The director will be briefed on the technical group’s new management objective, which calls for an escapement spawning goal as low as 200,000. The current spawning escapement goal is 350,000, which has been in place at least three or four decades.

Concerns at this point are the sockeye returns appear to be declining, and looks like it peaked a week ago, but that could still climb or continue in a downward trend. Others discussed the warm water once the sockeye cross over the Locks, and into the thermal barrier between Lake Union and Lake Washington that creates a dire situation for fish.

Once the director is briefed and the tribal managers also meet, then another co-manager discussion will likely occur at some point next week.

If a reduction is eventually approved, and if the run continues to move toward and above that 200,000, then a really small fishery could still be possible. State managers call this a step harvest rate approach.

The question is whether this new policy would be agreed for three or four years, and be a test drive to the change in management as well as working out sticky topics like mitigation and hatchery issues.

The earliest time frame to have a possible fishery would be later this month, and it is likely fisheries managers will not make any decisions for at least a week or so.

Based on the latest numbers – adjusted for tribal C&S fisheries below the locks – the final run will end up between 175,000 and 225,000.

Single-day counts have looked like this since counting began on June 12 it was 2,778; June 13, 2,424; June 14, 1,285; June 15, 2,430; June 16, 3,081; June 17, 3,603; June 18, 3,851; June 19, 4,638; June 20, 2,961; June 21, 3,296; June 22, 10,782; June 23, 12,936; June 24, 4,545; June 25, 6,021; June 26, 5,577; June 27, 4,641; June 28 5,314; June 29, 9,084; June 30, 9,182; July 1, 51,35; July 2, 5,194; July 3 5,185; July 4, 3,309; July 5, 3,257; July 6, 2,988; July 7, 6,543; July 8, 3,791; July 9, 4,532; July 10, 4,748; and Thursday, July 11, 4,130.

Just to compare, here are the cumulative totals of counting from past years:

2006: 247; 803; 1,217, 1,975; 2,606; 3,179; 4,656; 6,623; 9,660; 12,785; 16,162; 20,840; 24,030; 29,158; 33,407; 37,917; 44,168; 53,334; 60,808; 70,016; 75,996; 79,476; 81,368; 85,638; 89,605; 97,431; 109,226; 119,495; 129,342; and 140,723 (453,543 was the final season total).

2007: 412; 892; 1,343; 2,058; 2,907; 3,467; 4,302; 6,595; 8,390; 9,795; 11,048; 13,013; 15,484; 17,604; 20,824; 22,692; 24,033; 26,148; 27,196; 27, 769; 29,180; 31,516; 33,236; 34,761; 37,117; 39,459; 40,160; 42,551; 43,348; and 43,927 (69,271 was the final season total).

2008: 236; 570, 894; 1,411; 1,774; 2,173; 2,785; 3,653; 4,530; 5,437; 6,577; 8,439; 9,752; 11,068; 11,564; 13,558; 15,509; 16,781; 17,910; 19,012; 19,012; 20,275; 21,443; 22,810; 23,726; 24,223; 24,969; 25,568; 26,187; 27,073; and 27,915 (33,702 was the final season total).

2009: 299; 825; 1,322; 1,797; 2,425; 2,880; 3,520; 3,931; 4,394; 5,064; 6,190; 7,057; 7,686; 8,156; 8,702; 9,414; 10,279; 11,296; 12,124; 12,933; 13,606; 14,306; 14,839; 15,494; 16,182; 16,735; 17,447; 17,945; 18,242; and 18,434 (22,166 was the final season total).

2010: 625; 1,027; 1,673; 2,342; 3,296; 4,194; 5,531; 6,756; 8,119; 9,475; 12,679; 15,656; 18,094; 20,616; 22,433; 27,449; 32,012; 36,538; 40,00; 45,518; 48,535; 50,789; 57,555; 62,012; 72,169; 79,600; 82,425; 86,421; 89,801; and 95,758 (161,417 was the final season total).

2011: 304; 563; 866; 1,218; 1,866; 2,512; 3,134; 3,452; 4,177; 5,319; 6,297; 7,221; 9,175; 11,011; 12,531; 13,794; 14,659; 14,969; 15,217; 15,612; 16,016; 16,913; 20,463; 23,824; 25,599; 26,596; 27,460; 29,131; 30,507; and 31m354 (43,724 was the final season total).

2012: 1,633; 2,320; 2,852; 5,035; 8,097; 9,821; 11,337; 13,577; 19,999; 23,546; 25,385; 27,628; 31,368; 37,191; 38,971; 42,701; 47,781; 50,565; 57,094; 59,036; 63,575; 69,340; 78,940; 85,072; 93,563; 99,661; 103,639; 109,974; 113,556; and 118,918 (145,815 was the final season total).

The last time Lake Washington was open for sport sockeye fishing was 2006 for 18 days with a return of 458,005 fish, the longest since 1996 when it was open 25 days. Other dates a fishery was held included 2004, 2002, 2000 and 1996.