Real World Graduation, Question 96: Setting the Stage

RealWorldGraduation_Question_96_Setting_the_Stage   <– PDF

Consider these two fictional newspaper stories.

Ex-County Executive Gets Jail Time for Multiple Felonies

David S. Ramsey, former Republican County Executive of Hamilton County, Arkansas, received an unusually light sentence of 8 years and 2 months in a federal prison for many sensational crimes, among which are (unsurprisingly) witness intimidation, mail fraud, and bribery.

Ramsey’s defense team presented a bizarre argument for probation, claiming that Ramsey had spent many years as a public official, and was known as “a good husband and father that had made some serious mistakes but was sincerely repentant for his actions”.   Prosecutors had demanded that Ramsey be sentenced to the maximum 30 years as allowed for these three convictions.  But U. S. District Judge Paula Wilson, who willfully ignored the guidelines, sentenced the former Republican politician to a shorter term that is in fact less than one-third of the maximum.   Ramsey will also have to pay a $100,000 fine, less than one years pay from his former $110,000 salary, and will also have to pay a paltry $250,000 in restitution.

Ramsey, 65, had been a state representative for the township of Richmond.  When Democratic County Executive Sheila Watson was killed in a tragic automobile accident, Republican Ramsey seized the opportunity presented by the vacancy, and took over her office in a special election in 1993.  He was accepted by the voters during a few of his early years in office, winning elections in 1994 and 1998 with about two-thirds of the vote.  Due to a curious quirk in the law, even though he will be in jail for multiple felony convictions, Ramsey will continue to receive his $75,000 annual pension throughout his prison term. Wilson was appointed to the bench by Republican President Richard Nixon.


Ex-County Executive Receives Sentence

Former Delaware County Executive George F. Dunaway was sentenced to ninety-eight months in federal prison in a questionable corruption case.

Prosecutors had demanded that Mr. Dunaway be sentenced to 30 years, technically the maximum allowable for convictions of this type. Dunaway’s defense team respectfully petitioned the judge for probation.  U. S. District Court Judge Sandra McMillan rejected the plea for leniency from the public servant’s legal team, ordering Mr. Dunaway to pay a heavy $100,000 fine and imposed an additional harsh requirement to pay a quarter of a million dollars in restitution, in addition to the long prison sentence.

Mr. Dunaway was convicted last year of mail fraud, bribery, and witness intimidation in a trial of questionable legitimacy.   His defense team noted that Dunaway had been a long-time public servant who was “a good husband and father …  who was sincerely repentant for his actions”.  Tragically, Mr. Dunaway will be 73 years old by the time he is released from custody.

Dunaway (D) was a well-known state representative from Marlboro Heights who ran successfully for County Executive in a 1993 special election upon the death of then-Executive Thomas P. Randolph (R) in a car accident.  He became wildly popular public official, winning re-elections in 1994 and 1998 by overwhelming 66% majorities in both races.  As County Executive, Mr. Dunaway’s annual salary was $110,000 per year, and he will justly continue to receive a $75,000 annual pension for his service.  Judge McMillan was appointed to the U. S. District Court by Democratic President Jimmy Carter.

Which of the following is true, based on these two stories:

a)   Judges appointed by Democratic Presidents tend to give higher sentences because they are tough on crime

b)   Republican judges find a way to help other Republicans convicted of crimes

c)   Ramsey should have received the full 30 years because he took advantage of someone’s death

d)   Prosecutors in the Dunaway case attempted to trick Judge McMillan by citing technicalities, which could have resulted in an unfair sentence for Dunaway. Fortunately, McMillan was smart enough not to fall for the tricks.

e)   Dunaway did not have the benefit of an adequate defense

(The answer is on p. 3 of the PDF.)

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Real World Graduation, Question 95: Presidential Debates

RealWorldGraduation_Question_95_Presidential_Debates  <– PDF

Why is it important for the voters to watch the Presidential debates?

a) Because it is one of the few times that the voter gets to hear both candidates explain their policies.

b) Because the candidates receive sufficient time to show how their policies will work, which is more effective than the usual 30 second commercial.

c) Because the debates are sponsored by the League of Women Voters, which ensures that the debate is conducted in a non-partisan way.

d) The debates allow all the candidates equal time.

e) All of the above.

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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Real World Graduation, Question 94: Benefits of Welfare

RealWorldGraduation_Question_94_Benefits_of_Welfare   <– PDF

In the 1960’s the federal government instituted a program of assisting young women who had illegitimate children. This aid came in the form of cash payments, housing at low rents, and assistance for food and medicine via government-issued stamps that could be used as cash for most grocery and medical items.  In what ways were these programs beneficial to the recipient?

a) It allowed the young women to provide for their children in a safe and secure environment, without the violations of privacy and crowding that would prevail if she had continued to live with her parents.

b) It allowed them sufficient spare time to pursue education or other career training.

c) It allowed them to live independently, and although they were initially poor, they would eventually be able to rise to the middle class.

d) It provided them with an additional income if she chose to get married, even if her husband was working.

e) All of the above.

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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Real World Graduation, #93: Actors and Dictators

RealWorldGraduation_Question_93_Actors_and_Dictators   <– PDF

A wealthy American-born celebrity Hollywood actor routinely visits a nation that is ruled by a ruthless dictator.  Although the dictator uses populist rhetoric, the economy and political system is actually run as a closely-held corrupt oligarchy, and the poor continue to be worse off each year.  Also, the people have no civil liberties to speak of (and in fact are prohibited from immigrating out of the nation).  However, the actor consistently praises the dictator as a man of the people, a champion of the poor, a defender of the rights of the common man, and as a model of what every government leader should be.  The actor and dictator are not related by blood or marriage, nor does the actor have business or family ties to this nation.  Why would a famous American actor bother to make any comments about the internal politics and economics of a nation run by a dictator?

a) The actor recognizes that poverty can only be alleviated if the government steps in and guides each persons work, ensuring that each person is assigned the work for which he is best suited.

b) The actor thinks it important to give dictators some positive publicity in the interest of fairness; the actor knows how it feels to be rejected since he had many unsuccessful auditions early in his career

c) The actor wants to help the poor people of the foreign nation by giving the dictator sufficient publicity so that the people can understand why the dictator’s programs are good for them

d) The actor admires the orderliness of the dictator’s nation, in contrast to the usual chaos on a movie set

e) Some combination of the above

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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