National Roundup

Judge rules against Navy in Growler jet fleet lawsuit

SEATTLE (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that the Navy violated the National Environmental Policy Act during its environmental review process for the expansion of the Growler jet fleet at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

The ruling said the Navy failed to disclose the basis for greenhouse gas emissions calculations, failed to quantify the impact on classroom learning, failed to take a hard look at species-specific impacts on birds, and failed to give detailed consideration to the Navy base in El Centro, California, as an alternative for Growler expansion, the Skagit Valley Herald reported.

The two-page ruling adopted the recommendation of a U.S. federal magistrate, who issued a report and recommendation in December in favor of state Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s lawsuit.

The state and the other parties have 30 days to either agree on a remedy or on a briefing schedule to come up with a remedy, Ferguson said in a press release.

In 2019, the Navy authorized a significant expansion of its Growler program at NAS Whidbey Island, increasing flight operations to more than 110,000 per year, the Attorney General Office said.

In response, Ferguson filed a lawsuit arguing that the Navy violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the federal Administrative Procedure Act by improperly analyzing the impact the Growler expansion would have on human and environmental health.

This lawsuit was announced and filed concurrently with a similar lawsuit from Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve.

“The Navy has an important job,” Ferguson said in the release. “But that does not relieve the federal government of its obligation to follow the law and take a hard look at the public health and environmental impacts of its programs. Today the judge ruled that the Navy fell short of its obligation.”


Puerto Rico
Official: Ex Gov. Wanda Vazquez arrested

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Former Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez was arrested Thursday in the U.S. territory on corruption charges, marking the first time that a former leader of the island faces federal charges, an official told The Associated Press.

Two other unidentified people were arrested along with her, said the official, who was not authorized to talk about the federal case.

Juan Rosado-Reynés, a spokesman for Vázquez, told the AP he did not have immediate comment.

In mid-May, Vázquez’s attorney told reporters that he and his client were preparing for possible charges as the former governor at the time denied any wrongdoing: “I can tell the people of Puerto Rico that I have not committed any crime, that I have not engaged in any illegal or incorrect conduct, as I have always said.”

Vázquez was the second woman to serve as Puerto Rico’s governor and the first former governor to face federal charges. Former Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá was charged with campaign finance violations while in office and was found not guilty in 2009. He had been the first Puerto Rico governor to be charged with a crime in recent history.

Vázquez was sworn in as governor in August 2019 after former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló stepped down following massive protests. She served until 2021, after losing the primaries of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party to now Gov. Pedro Pierluisi.

In a statement Thursday, Pierluisi said his administration will work with federal authorities to help fight corruption.

“No one is above the law in Puerto Rico,” he said. “Faced with this news that certainly affects and lacerates the confidence of our people, I reiterate that in my administration, we will continue to have a common front with federal authorities against anyone who commits an improper act, no matter where it comes from or who it may implicate.”

Vázquez previously served as the island’s justice secretary and a district attorney for more than 30 years.

She became governor after Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court ruled that the swearing in of Pierluisi — who was secretary of state in 2019 — as governor was unconstitutional. Vázquez at the time said she was not interested in running for office and would only finish the nearly two years left in Rosselló’s term.

Rosselló had resigned after tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans took to the street, angry over corruption, mismanagement of public funds and an obscenity-laced chat in which he and 11 other men including public officials made fun of women, gay people and victims of Hurricane Maria, among others.

Shortly after she was sworn in, Vázquez told the AP that her priorities were to fight corruption, secure federal hurricane recovery funds and help lift Puerto Rico out of a deep economic crisis as the government struggled to emerge from bankruptcy.

During the interview, she told the AP that she had long wanted to be in public service: as a girl, she would stand on her balcony and hold imaginary trials, always finding the supposed defendants guilty.


Man pleads guilty to shooting police K-9 during chase

GULFPORT, Miss (AP) — A man has pleaded guilty to shooting and injuring a police K-9 during a chase in Mississippi earlier this year.

Richard J. McGuire, 44, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Gulfport, Mississippi, to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and one count of animal crushing.

The plea stems from an incident in March, when Moss Point police officers responded to an alarm call at a restaurant and gas station in southern Mississippi, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release. After searching the area, police found McGuire behind another business. He fled when officers approached him.

A police K-9 named “Buddy” was released to find McGuire. The dog pursued McGuire into a wooded area when officers heard two gunshots. Buddy was later found to have been shot in the chest.

Officers apprehended McGuire and said they found him with a sawed-off shotgun and body armor. As a previously convicted felon, McGuire was prohibited from possessing the weapon.

Buddy survived and will return to work soon, prosecutors said.

McGuire, who is from Mobile, Alabama, will be sentenced in November. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for possession of a firearm and seven years for animal crushing.

An attorney for McGuire could not immediately be reached for comment.