So Goes The
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Page Two


    So Goes The Nation

                                                                          Punk Cops
                                                                            by Jayelle Pierce 

    HOLYOKE, Mass. — My godfather, Harold Kennedy, was a Holyoke cop. 
   Not just a cop, but also a good decent cop.  And a good father, husband and uncle to his godson. 
   He earned his bachelors degree after having served in the U.S. Navy in WWII, taking college credits when not patrolling in his cruiser the difficult low-income “flats” or the up-scale “highlands” and the roadways in between in this town northwest of Springfield.     
    He became a detective sergeant on “the force,” as he called it, and later earned his masters degree in criminal justice.  Our family was very proud of him.
    The St. Patrick’s Day parade here is said to be the third largest in the country, following New York City and Savannah, Ga.  The men and women in blue march proudly behind the legions of girl scouts and boy scouts, and fire trucks and veteran groups with flying flags.  Thousands of tax-paying citizens and voters lined the sidewalks, cheering and feeling proud. 
    Glen Grays, a black postal worker, delivering mail in the Crown Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., on St. Patrick’s Day, stepped backwards out of his USPS truck, as most postal delivery workers do to avoid knee injury, and was nearly hit by a dark unmarked police car with four plainclothes cops riding in the speeding car. 
    As he jumped up the truck’s steps to avoid getting hit by the black car, Grays yelled at the driver.  That’s when the car’s driver braked to a stop then shifted to reverse and sped backwards to Grays’ amazement, telling him “I’m law enforcement.”
    Grays was delivering a package to a residence at 999 President Street and told the news media he often climbs to four or five story apartments to make sure folks get their packages. Television video of the four cops molesting Grays, in his postal uniform, show the Federal employee being frisked, patted down, handcuffed, and dragged to the unmarked cruiser. 
    The quartet of law enforcement officers tell Grays to stop resisting though the video shows no resistance by Grays.  There is no video of what happened next.  Grays says he was placed in the back seat of the unmarked car, still handcuffed, without a seat belt.  His mail truck was left unattended in the street.
    Grays says the driver inside the cop car turned around and was smart mouthing him when the cruiser hit the vehicle in front, causing Grays to bang his shoulder into the front seat.  Apparently the siren and blue lights were not engaged.
    Grays was issued a summons for disorderly conduct at the 71st Precinct station, requiring him to appear in court.  Then he was released. 
    The police department and the politicians have been issuing rubber stamp statements, such as “its under internal review,” and the mayor will be “in close touch” with the commissioner.  Residents of the neighborhood are asking if the post office union and the police union also will be in close touch.
   And in police scanner-talk, were the four undercover cops, all of whom were wearing holstered pistols and plastic identification cards, hanging by a thin rope from their necks, in an unmarked cop car in service (10-8)?
   Did they broadcast a (10-15), subject in vehicle? 
   Moreover,  did they radio in they’re own cruiser accident (10-50)!
   Or perhaps a civil disturbance (10-70), like a couple of punks speeding around looking for trouble.
   We’ll see them all in court. (10-4)? 


(c) 2016, J. Pierce

  So Goes The Nation


Prince to Pauper--Here Come the Feds

by Jayelle Pierce

   CHANHASSEN, MINN--On the 100th anniversary of the Federal Estate Tax wouldn’t you know legendary crooner Prince No-Last-Name entered the elevator and pushed the down button.

   When the doors opened nine days later here at the bottom floor of his palatial home, known as “Paisley Park,” he was dead.

   Intestate say the lawyers in old Latin, appearing, as do the multitude of seasonal cicadae, at the local district courthouse in nearby Chaska for the initial hearing of the famous singer’s estate plan, which apparently there was none.  When an individual dies without a will the state has one already prepared.  And it can be costly.

   District Court Judge Kevin Eide formally appointed Bremer Trust, N.A., as special administrator on behalf of Prince’s estate, now considered a legal entity, to oversee the process of probate.  It could take a long time, and cost lots of money.

   There were more lawyers than heirs at the initial hearing, of course.  Judge Eide says he’s not ruling yet as to whether there is a will or not. None has shown up so far.

   Along with a dozen lawyers Prince’s sole full sister, Tyke Nelson, showed up in the courthouse as did Norrine and Sharon Nelson, half-sisters.  None said anything to the media.  Most wore stylish dark sunglasses.

   Today’s Federal Estate Tax kicks in when a deceased individual’s assets exceed $5.45 million.  Prince’s estate is said to be astronomically above this.  Some estimate more than $100-million!

   The tax could be as much as 50% of his net worth and maybe much more.  Then various states show up asking for an “inheritance tax” from recipient-inheritors.  Prince’s sister and five half-siblings each would inherit one-sixth of the estate say lawyers since Minnesota law treats all siblings the same.

   When Elvis died more than 80% of his estate was liquidated to pay taxes.  Michael Jackson died seven years ago and his multi-million dollar estate is still in court with the meter running for lawyer fees and taxes.

   This whole estate tax began in 1916 when the Congress wanted to raise additional monies to support military efforts during World War I.   The levy back then was on assets in excess of $50,000 and the rate was 10%.  Opponents felt the states should do the levying, so the politicians compromised—some to the states and some to the Feds.

   It is often called the “wealth transfer tax.”   Back in the roaring 1920s then Secretary of Treasury, Andrew Mellon, was urging repeal of the estate tax, feeling that selling assets at depressed prices to pay a tax was dreadful economic policy and injured the nation’s economy.  Failing repeal, Mellon met with his lawyers and at his death bequeathed his art collection and $10 million to create the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

   Exemptions from the estate tax were modified by Congress six-fold from 1997 to 2009, the year Jackson died, and the tax disappeared in 2010.  Those dying in 2010, thereby avoiding the tax, included politicians Sen. Robert C. Byrd and Sen. Ted Stevens; Hollywood stars Tony Curtis, Eddie Fisher, Lynn Redgrave, Art Linkletter; author J.D. Salinger; and businessman George Steinbrenner among others.

   One technique to avoid the “death tax” was to simply give away assets to family and friends.  Politicians and the IRS came up with a “gottach-ya” rule.  If you transfer an asset worth more than $14,000 to an individual within three years of your death, they’ll bring it back into the estate and tax it!  Otherwise, if you give more than the $14,000, the excess is considered a gift and its tax-free to the recipient, but the donor pays a “gift tax” on the excess.  The Feds got you coming or going.

   The number of heirs showing up in the probate court for Prince continues to grow.

   The daughter and granddaughter of a man who claimed during his lifetime to have been Prince’s half-brother strolled into the Carver County District Court recently, asking to be recognized as Prince’s heirs to the estate.  Seems like Judge Eide will have to hire DNA inspectors and install a swinging door to that courtroom.

    Brianna and Victoria Nelson sought to intervene in ongoing probate proceedings, stating they are the heirs of the late Duane Nelson Sr., identified in their filings as the son of Prince’s father, John L. Nelson.

   Nelson was a musician whose stage name was ‘Prince Rogers,” and his wife Mattie Shaw—Prince’s mother—was a jazz singer who performed with the Prince Rogers Band. They broke up when Prince was 10 years old.

   Throughout his life, Duane Nelson Sr. publicly referred to himself as Prince’s half-brother, and multiple press reports, including his 2011 obituary in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, did likewise.

   And we now have learned Prince’s legal name!  It’s Prince Rogers Nelson!

  It almost has a regal ring to it, as if going back to fiefdoms when royalty dispensed land to the servitude class only to reclaim it when the workers died. 

  The Federal Estate Tax may be a century old in the United States but its roots go back a long, long way.




© 2016, J. Pierce



So Goes The Nation


Doane’s Sunoco

by Jayelle Pierce 

   KENNEBUNKPORT, MAINE--It was a very late, chilly October Sunday afternoon, special because the sun stayed out most of the day.  Leaves had turned autumn colors and covered the grounds and lawns in Lower Village and Kennebunkport.  Still, a steady wind moved them about as it did to my canoe. 

  Mid afternoon before the Patriot’s football game on television had reach first half, I thought I would take the family canoe out on the creek behind our home across from Booth Chick’s boatyard, float under the Ocean Avenue bridge and paddle up river.

  My kids were River Club alumni; I was an unaccomplished sailor. 

  I hadn’t been in a canoe until that day.  One end of the canoe was skinner than the other end so I figured it would take less of an effort paddling and changing sides as I stroked if I sat on that stern end of the canoe.  The fatter bow end lifted off the water some inches higher then my end. 

  I wore my lined L.L. Bean chinos, my desert boots, a warm black and red flannel shirt over which I wore my fleeced windbreaker.  I wrapped a Pabst Blue Ribbon in one of those red styrofoam jackets that looked like a can of Coca-Cola, disguising the PBR from cruising coastguard patrols. 

   Then I slipped on one of those three-panel life jackets, like the one Burt Reynolds wore in the movie “Deliverance,” but I didn’t tie it together.  It looked cool unbuckled as I steered up river past Chicks then to the Yachtsman Motel.  The perfect preppy photo for Ansel Adams, until I tried to turn around. 

 The tide was running out and I was trying to row in.  Navigationally speaking, I tried to steer my bow into the wind to catch the outgoing tide, except I was in the stern when I should have been in the bow!  I dug the paddle into the moving river.  First, left side; the canoe moved to the right.  Then right side and the canoe moved left. Repeating this maneuver I made no headway. As I again stabbed the salt water with the paddle, the front of the canoe began to rise.     

   Suddenly, as I gripped the paddle I saw the cobalt sky and pale heavenly clouds as my end of the canoe began to sink into the chilly Kennebunk River. Then I tasted cold salty water and heard bubbles as the boat flipped over and my head went under.  

  Mariners are taught to stay with the ship.  The now upside down canoe was floating better than I was.  The hull was slippery as a seal, and the dead weight pants pulled me down in a manner where I could not hold on.  Judging the closest parcel of land was the wooded area behind the Franciscan Monastery, I abandoned ship, a navigational faux pas. 

  When I attempted to swim to shore, the flaps of the life-protector vest floated on top of the water interfering with the swimming strokes of my flailing arms. Heck, if Burt Reynolds could survive going over the waterfalls, I sure as that banjo-picker could one-arm backstroke to the Monastery. 

  The Franciscans Fathers owned a small motel with a swimming pool camouflaged by the tree line along the banks of the river, I learned, while dripping wet and walking around the pool to find the residence hall of any priest whom I thought would give me a ride home. 

  At that moment a door to one of the motel rooms opened and an elderly woman stared at me with a shocked expression as I continued to walk with the pool directly behind me. 

“Great day for a swim,” I said, shivering with a smile and continued to the friary to find a Franciscan who would give me a quick ride home. 

  After a warm shower and a change of clothes I drove over to Doane’s Wharf and at the end of the path I found our family canoe, the paddle, a seat cushion, and what looked like a can of Coca-Cola neatly lined up on the lawn.  That’s when Brewster L. Doane, wearing a big ear-to-ear smile walked over and said “Hey, Jayelle.  That you taking a swim today, eh?” 

  After thanking him for rescuing my nautical gear, he helped me load it into my station wagon, still wearing that wonderful smile of his. 

  For more than a year or so, every time I stopped at Cooper’s Corner to fill up with gas that terrific smile would walk out that old wooden office of the Sunoco Station and regardless of the season he’d always tease, asking if I’d been taking any more canoe rides! 

  “Nope,” I would curtly reply.  Then, changing the subject, I would ask with a smile “And how you been, Brewster?”  

  “Oh, just fine,” he said with a smile.  “Fill’er up?”  

  “Yessuh,” I’d mimic with my New Jersey twang. 

  This friendly banter went on until I learned he got confused in a thick fog and crashed his motor boat into the jetty at the mouth of the river by the Colony Hotel.  Fortunately he was not injured in the accident. 

  That event would change our inveterate greetings at the gas station for many years.  

  We were all square. And we both would never discuss our seafaring again! 

  But as sure as the devil, we would continue to smile at each other, knowingly. 


(c) 2016, J.Pierce 






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