Judge declares man's truck 'his home' in ruling that could affect hundreds of homeless people

Published: Tuesday, March 06, 2018 @ 6:03 AM

Seattle Judge's Ruling Could Affect Hundreds of Homeless People

A Seattle man is celebrating after a judge ruled that the truck he has been living in is his home and the city can't sell it to pay for a hefty parking ticket and fines. The ruling could affect hundreds of homeless people living in their vehicles.

The judge's ruling is based on the 123-year-old Homestead Act that says the government can't force anyone to sell their home to satisfy debts. This is apparently the first time anyone has successfully argued that a vehicle can be a home.

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Steven Long has lived in a truck on the streets of Seattle since 2014. But last year, when his truck was parked on Poplar Street South for five months, the city impounded it. He said living outside took a toll.

"I had eight colds that year and pneumonia, to boot," he said. "And I normally have only one or two colds a year."

Long is not alone. A 2017 survey by the nonprofit All Home counted more than 5,400 people living on Seattle's streets. Nearly half of them were living in their vehicles.

"It's one of the first big victories in the area of vehicle residency in particular," says Columbia Legal Services lawyer Ann LoGerfo.

LoGerfo and Long's legal team argued that state law says a home cannot be sold to pay one's debts. Long's truck, the judge determined, is indeed his home, and couldn't be held for the $900 impound feeds he owes.

"So the impound system where there's an impound and you can't get your vehicle – and here a house – out until you pay pretty hefty fines violates the homestead act," LoGerfo said. 

LoGerfo said that this ruling means a vehicle is to be treated like a home. 

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The city of Seattle argued that impounding Long's vehicle did not constitute a "forced sale." 

Moreover, the courts "have consistently held that there is no constitutional right to housing."

The city attorney would not talk on camera but issued a statement: "The City disagrees with the trial court's ruling and is evaluating its options."

Long hopes the ruling will help others living in their vehicles.

"Hope they would never have to see or do what I had to live through," he said.

The city may still ticket anyone who parks a vehicle for more than 72 hours. But if it is someone's home, they may not impound it.

The city can appeal.

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Emergency responders leave dead man on side of road, officials say

Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 11:37 AM

Man Allegedly Left On Side Of Road To Die By Emergency Responders

Emergency personnel left the lifeless body of a man they were unable to revive on the side of a road, according to reports. 

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Ty Ross took his dogs Jake and Holly for a walk around the Palma Sola Marina Feb. 26 when he suffered a heart attack, according to WWSB

His wife Julie Ross had her phone off while she was working out and when she was able to get to the scene, there was only a Manatee County sheriff’s deputy there, according to WWSB

Emergency personnel, who had been there for about an hour, had already left, leaving Ty Ross’ body half in the street and the other half in the grass. 

His body was in the sun for about three hours before a friend who runs a funeral home arrived to pick up Ross’s body, according to WWSB.

The Manatee County Emergency Medical Services’ policy is that an ambulance will not transport a person who has died, according to WWSB.

County officials told WWSB they are looking to change that policy in light of this incident.

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Cyberattack on City of Atlanta could compromise sensitive information

Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 6:50 PM

A skyline view of Atlanta at night. The city has been attacked by hackers who have shut down the city’s computer systems. The attackers are demanding a ransom in exchange for unlocking the system.
A skyline view of Atlanta at night. The city has been attacked by hackers who have shut down the city’s computer systems. The attackers are demanding a ransom in exchange for unlocking the system.(Pixabay)

City of Atlanta officials are struggling to determine how much sensitive information may have been compromised in a Thursday cyber attack.

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They urged employees to check their bank accounts to make sure their financial information had not been accessed and said that anyone who had conducted transactions with the city could be at risk.

“Because we don’t know, I think it would be appropriate for the public just to be vigilant in checking their accounts and making sure their credit agencies have also been notified,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said at a Thursday press conference.

The city has also received demands that it pay a ransom of an unspecified amount, officials confirmed. But officials had yet to make a determination if it would pay the ransom.

“We can’t speak to that right now,” Bottoms said. “We will be looking for guidance, specifically from our federal partners.”

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The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service had been called on for advice.

For years, the FBI has warned that the use of ransomware — malicious software that threatens to block access to data or to publish it unless the infected organization pays a ransom — is a fast growing criminal enterprise.

Organizations often don’t learn they have been infected until they can’t access their data or until computer messages appear demanding a ransom payment in exchange for a decryption key, according to the FBI’s website.

The messages include instructions on paying the ransom, usually in the form of bitcoins — a crypto currency that allows for anonymous transactions online.

Both Davidson County North Carolina and the Colorado Department of Transportation suffered ransomware attacks last month.

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The city’s Department of Atlanta Information Management at 5:40 a.m. Thursday learned of outages of various internal and customer applications “including some applications customers use to pay bills or access court related information,” said Richard Cox, the city’s interim Chief of Operations.

Cox called it a “ransomware cyber attack.”

The public safety department, water services and the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport operated without incident, Cox said.

Cox said the city would offer employees additional resources to help them protect their information in coming days.

Bottoms said that the city’s municipal courts should be open on Friday.

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Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields said that her department’s emergency response system had not been affected at all.

Shields said that officers had reverted to writing reports on paper out of an abundance of caution, but that as far as she knew the police departments computer systems were still operational.

Shields insisted that earlier reports attributed to a department memo that warned that payroll might be disrupted were not true.

“We did not put out a memo,” Shields said. “I can’t control what is said. I’m deferring to experts here who said, ‘It won’t be affected.’ And I believe them.”

Bottoms also said that city’s 8,000 employees would be paid on Friday.

“I’ll be signing signing 8,000 checks today if necessary,” Bottoms said.

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Teacher finds meowing cat in student’s backpack

Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 12:58 PM

Meowing Cat Found in Student’s Backpack

One fourth grade student’s backpack was quite literally the cat’s meow.

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Fourth grade teacher Carey Geipel started looking around her classroom after she heard meowing during a planning period March 16 only to discover a student brought a cat to school hidden in a backpack, according to a Facebook post

“We listen to a purse, lunchbox... it must be a cell phone ringing,” she wrote. “Nope. It’s coming from the backpacks. I lift a jacket and a backpack MOVES. I unzip the backpack and a cat’s head POPS out!”

Geipel made a phone call home to the student’s mother, who came and picked up the cat.

“Hello, Student is safe but we have kind of a weird situation,” Geipel wrote, recounting the conversation. “Your student brought a cat to school, on the bus, in her backpack.”

It turns out it is not even their cat, it belongs to their neighbor.

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12-year-old boy missing after getting on wrong school bus

Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 5:58 PM

A 12-year-old boy has been missing for two days after getting on the wrong school bus at a metro Atlanta middle school.
A 12-year-old boy has been missing for two days after getting on the wrong school bus at a metro Atlanta middle school.(Pixabay)

A 12-year-old boy disappeared after getting on the wrong school bus on his way home from middle school in metro Atlanta.   

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Anthony Randolph III disappeared Wednesday after boarding the wrong bus at Redan Middle School in DeKlab County, police said.

Investigators said the boy got off the bus two miles away from his home.

He wasn’t supposed to be on that bus and school officials said they are working to figure out why the bus driver didn’t take him back to school.

“We need you home Anthony, fast, please,” the child’s father, Anthony Randolph Jr., said.

Randolph wiped away tears as he begged anyone with information on the disappearance of his son to come forward.

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A search is underway as police continue investigating the boy’s disappearance.

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