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Traffic Team Remembers Captain Herb Emory Captain Herb loved so much. He loved his family, his job, his colleagues and his community. Recently, the Traffic Team remembered Herb on the 5th anniversary of his untimely passing. You can hear Doug Turnbull, Mark Arum, Ashley Frasca and Smilin’ Mark McKay share memories of their mentor on the Traffic Podcast HERE. We invite our Traffic Troopers to WSB for lunch once each year, to thank them for their commitment of giving us great traffic information throughout the year! A good time was had by all! Thank you to Williamson Bros Bar-B-Q for catering. COMING UP! The Traffic Team along with ALL of their WSB Radio colleagues take part in the 19th annual Care-a-thon. This 36 hour fundraiser benefits the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta! Broadcast dates are July 25th and 26th. Stay tuned for ways you can help, and thank you for your continued support! Call our traffic center with traffic incident 24/7/365 at 404-897-7358. You can also get through to us using the “Triple Team Traffic Alerts” app, free in your phone’s app store! The app provides real-time, traffic incidents recorded by WSB radio traffic reporters. Powered by BriteBox Electrical.

The Gridlock Guy- Doug Turnbull

  • There are many “bad traffic days” on Atlanta’s roads, but an 18-hour stretch from Thursday, May 16th, and into Friday, the 17th, was absurd. In particular, the subsequent closures of I-75/northbound between McDonough and Stockbridge on Thursday almost entirely proved Murphy’s Law. This was a period for the ages, and the horror also broke out elsewhere. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: When traffic is stopped and you need to go The gridlock started at approximately 10 a.m. Thursday, when a tractor trailer overturned on I-75/northbound at I-675 (Exit 227) in Henry County. The big rig stretched perpendicularly across the lanes and completely shut down I-75/nb. “(Thursday) was one of the most unusual middays I’ve ever worked,” WSB Triple Team Traffic’s Alex Williams said, still a bit aghast after processing the day. “We had a total of roughly four traffic RED ALERTS.” As we have covered here before, the WSB Traffic Team defines a RED ALERT as an interstate’s or major highway’s entire closure for an extended duration. For four such closures to happen near or at the same time is not a common thing. The first I-75/nb closure was bad enough, but just as it started clearing, a far bigger RED ALERT unfolded around noon. “I-75/nb south of Highway 20/81 in McDonough, which is south of the first RED ALERT, was shut down with a deadly crash & big rig fire,” Williams explained. The WSB Jam Cam showed a tractor trailer sliced open and engulfed in flames, obviously necessitating all of I-75/nb’s closure. The breadth of the wreckage made clear very early that this closure would last for hours. Then we learned that two big rigs actually collided and smashed a car between them, killing two. That meant an investigation extended the closure even later. There was correlation between the two wrecks, as the extreme backups from the first wreck created the traffic changes that galvanized the other. The Atlanta roads mirror NASCAR: cautions breed cautions. The I-75/nb shutdown in McDonough drilled traffic back into Butts County, before Highway 36 (Exit 201). Police diverted traffic off on the exits south of the crash and the side roads, especially Highway 42/23, became jammed. The extreme northbound commotion jammed I-75/southbound with onlooker delays all the way back to I-675. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: How we decide where the WSB Skycopter flies The South Metro Express/Peach Pass Lanes stayed pointed in the northbound direction all the way through Friday morning. Crews near the crash before Hwy. 20/81 forced some traffic into those toll lanes, which worked effectively like an open freeway lane. Both the rubbernecking and the lack of relief the reversible lanes usually bring made for an evening commute that was an hour worse than normal on I-75/sb. And this was in the direction opposite of the closure. “What an unbelievable day for Henry County commuters,” WSB’s Veronica Harrell stated, after working those wrecks from the WSB 24-Hour Traffic Center. “I-75 northbound was shut down from 10:30 a.m. until well into the evening rush. I felt so sorry for everyone involved.” From the WSB Skycopter, I watched I-75/nb finally re-open just before our 6 p.m. Non-Stop News Feed. The cleanup of the two mangled and charred trailers on the right shoulder didn’t completely clear until around 10 p.m., WSB’s Steve Winslow observed. When monitoring major problems, like those on I-75 on the south side, losing sight of other problems is easy. Thankfully, Williams and Harrell did not. “I-285/northbound shut down at LaVista Road, so we had three RED ALERTS at once,” Williams recalled. “Luckily I-285 opened shortly after. Then, less than an hour later, I-20/eastbound shut down at I-285 in Fulton County.” But Williams and Harrell, and then WSB’s Smilin’ Mark McKay and Mike Shields, kept scouring the WSB Jam Cams and updating our Triple Team Traffic Alerts App with new problems. As soon as I-75/nb finally opened in Henry County, a vehicle flipped over on GA-400/northbound south of the Glenridge Connector. We arrived in the WSB Skycopter, just as a HERO unit spent about five minutes towing it to the right; traffic was awful back before Lenox. And to top off the rush hour, a devastating wreck shut down I-285/southbound at Atlanta Road (Exit 15) around 7 p.m. Thursday, keeping Shields busy through the evening. The wee morning hours of Friday saw Atlanta Police shut down I-85/northbound at Cleveland Avenue and I-75/85/sb at Highway 166, for crash reconstruction scenes. Those opened quickly. Then the south side got hit again with a three-hour RED ALERT at about 5:30 a.m. on I-675/northbound at Highway 42. The last hour of that closure saw half of I-75/northbound in Morrow, the main I-675/nb alternate, get blocked with its own wreck. McKay watched I-675/northbound open from the Skycopter after 8 a.m. We spell this all out to say that bad traffic happens with very little rhyme or reason. Drive alert and always prepare before your commute by checking our app, wsbradio.com, and keeping in tune with our live reports on News 95.5/AM750 WSB and Channel 2 Action News. If you don’t, you may find yourself saying, “Ohhh-ah,” as Harrell often does when the, uh, traffic hits the fan.  » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: WSB Triple Team Traffic App helps navigate commute Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.
  • The Atlanta road system is in construction parallax; it has to be. Our population continues to grow and the externalities of this expansion manifest themselves in the way of trucks, cones, barrels, bulldozers, barriers, and paint. The most ostensible and cumbersome of these projects is the immense Transform 285/400 project in Sandy Springs. That interchange redesign came on the heels of the massive I-75/I-575 Northwest Metro Express Lanes construction in Cobb and Cherokee counties, which concluded last September. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: Treating the right of way the right way Even small road adjustments and improvements can cause closures, but more subtle construction changes can cause intense delays without actually blocking lanes. One such side effect of big-time road work is a lane shift or lane restriping. An avid WSB listener who wishes to be called “Traffic Trooper Squirrel” (they love squirrels, in case you’re wondering) asked me a great question, as they approached one of these work zones on I-75 in Butts County: What is a lane shift? Squirrel is from another country and isn’t familiar with certain American vernacular. That question put the presence of these slants in travel lanes front and top of mind for me. When construction crews have to build bridges or build out lanes next to roads, they often have to take some capacity from the regular through lanes. Instead of blocking an entire lane for weeks and months, they restripe the lanes. Usually, crews will paint the lanes with a slant to the left or right, and sometimes they make the lanes skinnier, to allow for this construction. This causes problems. Any time the environment changes, traffic cringes. When just a bit of rain falls, people make wrecking look easy and traffic automatically moves more slowly. So certainly when travel lanes suddenly juke left or right and constrict, the travel flow slows. And this ripple in the “trip time continuum” causes more wrecks as well, which then cause even more delays. Take the pain that Cobb commuters felt on I-75 for the several years leading up to the completion of those new toll lanes. The lane shifts between I-285 and Marietta slowed traffic at very unpredictable times of day. And this happened simply because a few more variables (lane shifts and restriping) joined the commuting equation on that stretch. In recent weeks, the I-285/westbound ramp to Peachtree Dunwoody Road and exit lanes to GA-400 have been restriped. Crews there did eliminate a net lane of capacity, taking the left exit lane to Peachtree Dunwoody and making it an exit lane to GA-400. That has made the exit to “Pill Hill” a nightmare, which backs up the right lanes of I-285 even worse during both rush hours. Add in the lane shift on I-285 in that same area and lane shifts on GA-400 in that spot and “slower than normal” has become the new normal. The new Peach Pass lanes on I-75 and I-575 have brought plenty of relief to the northwestern suburbs. I-75 used to be awful, but has instead moderated greatly with the addition of the two reversible lanes during each rush hour. However, a new lane shift just last week on I-75/northbound north of Chastain Road, combined with construction equipment sitting off to the right, has done to Marietta-Kennesaw traffic what a pugilist did to Jared Leto’s beautiful face in “Fight Club.” The lane shift and restriping on I-75/northbound in Kennesaw has turned what had decreased to a sub-20 minute ride from I-285 to Chastain into a 30-minute-plus trek. No lanes are blocked; conditions simply changed. There are many more examples of what restriping, lane shifts, and lane constriction can do to traffic. But there aren’t really many great solutions on how to minimize their impact. As motorists, we need to drive with more awareness and with more authority. We can still be cautious and decisive; those are not mutually exclusive traits. And let this serve as a reminder to always drive at our best in work zones, because mistakes in these areas are more costly. Construction areas often leave less room for drivers to correct themselves or pull to a shoulder, and crashes and inattentiveness have higher chances here to cost lives. Construction is with us for years to come — please be careful.  » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: Getting around roundabouts shouldn’t throw you for a loop Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.
  • The last Saturday in April, regardless of the weather, is a beautiful day in Atlanta. April 27th saw the 28th running of the Georgia Police Memorial Ride: a congregation of hundreds of motorcycles, police cars, and other vehicles that travel in formation to salute Georgia officers that have fallen in the line of duty. Blue Knights Georgia chapter VII, a fraternal, non-profit motorcycle club of current and retired law enforcement, hosts this massive event each year. The late Captain Herb Emory was heavily involved in the memorial ride for more than 20 years. “Every year when this ride comes up, I stop to hear the Blue Knights’ and other’s stories about Captain Herb’s perpetual involvement in this big event!” WSB Triple Team Traffic’s Ashley Frasca exclaimed. “I believe he became involved by the second or third annual ride, and was there every year since.” In the spirit of Captain Herb, Frasca volunteers with C.O.P.S. (Concerns of Police Survivors) and helps host and put together C.O.P.S. events the night before the Memorial Ride and for other times during the year. Her relationship with Captain Herb and his widow, Karen, sparked her interest in this cause. “A cool thing for me each year is seeing his memorial flag flown on a bike in the ride,” she explained. “Our great friend Karen usually brings the Mayberry Patrol Car out, too.” » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: Community service years after losing Captain Herb Emory Captain Herb was an honorary Douglas Co. Sheriff's officer and, as we talked about a few weeks ago, died of a heart attack after rescuing crash victims and then directing traffic in front of his house. He also was simply a huge police geek. Captain Herb went to police roadblocks in the middle of the night. He also loved police memorabilia, scanners, and “The Andy Griffith Show.” When Karen surprised Herb with that restored Ford Galaxie years ago, Herb was in rare form: speechless. “Aunt Bea,” as the license plate says, is always a favorite at auto shows and at this annual ride. Frasca said that over 1,000 motorcycle riders showed up from all over Georgia and even Kentucky and the Carolinas. The procession, that started on Jonesboro Rd. in southeast Atlanta at about 11 a.m. was some kind of spectacle. The current and vintage police cars, hundreds of bikes, and two MARTA buses carrying the surviving families roared and paced like a majestic lion that demanded attention and respect. It also created a huge traffic interruption. “I think the word got out in a big way about closing the Downtown Connector around lunch time on a Saturday,” Frasca said. Frasca and I, along with others on the Traffic Team, warned people on News 95.5/AM750 WSB of the impending closure Friday. And the ensuing gridlock warnings and traffic jams themselves were front and center in Jill Nelson’s and Floyd Hillman’s reports Saturday morning. I actually helped Hillman send out some tweets and Triple Team Traffic Alerts App push alerts from the backseat of the Mayberry Patrol Car during the ride. But the warning effort didn’t stop there. “I also want to commend GDOT for working with the Blue Knights for this ride. They helped spread the word using the overhead matrix boards in the city,” Frasca said. HERO drivers and law enforcement sealed off entrance ramps and intersections to allow the mile-long parade to pass. And as Frasca on the back of an officer’s bike and myself, Karen Emory, Triple Team Traffic’s Mike Shields, and Douglas Co. S.O. First Lt. John Jewell in the Mayberry car saw, people respectfully took notice and paused to remember the fallen officers. The Georgia Police Memorial Ride gallops each year up I-285/westbound, to I-75/northbound, to I-75/85/northbound. Then it exits on the Piedmont Avenue HOV ramp and into Midtown, turns left on 14th Street, and left on Spring Street. After passing Centennial Park and the Five Points Station and Underground Atlanta, the long mass of metal and flags re-enters I-75/85/sb just below I-20 and goes back. Traffic stayed jammed on I-75/85 in both directions for over an hour - well after the lanes opened. And people certainly are upset each time. The traffic RED ALERT - as we call it on WSB - stopped Downtown Atlanta traffic for longer than President Trump’s motorcade did earlier that week. And while that is a major inconvenience, it provides a mandatory pause to think about the gravity of it all. Just as we got to stop and remember Captain Herb and other fallen heroes in the patrol car, those stuck in traffic got to see how many people care about and/or were affected by the loss of an officer. Headlines sometimes become just that; they can lose their meaning. The Georgia Police Memorial Ride is a list of dozens of headlines, suddenly gleaming to life, and passing by with guttural realness.  » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: What our Traffic Troopers mean to us Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.
  • This column has gotten emotional and spiritual this month, as spring sinews into summer and Atlanta’s traffic patterns are really rush-hour Rorschach tests. The morning and afternoon drives, once very much accentuated from the other, now bleed together. That sets up just about the right imagery for the painful commutes most of us share. With so many moving pieces on the Atlanta traffic-scape, a return to practicality in this space of prose is in order — but not this week. We must color outside of the lines once again, which more than likely is a subconscious emulation of how this metro area’s traffic behaves. This week sees the end of National Poetry Month. So to stay thematically relevant, let’s celebrate, malign, mourn, chide, deride, mimic — and maybe even enjoy — our complicated journey on the streets of Metro Atlanta. Will this amateur poem feature Perimeter pentameter, crash-filled couplets, or maybe a sluggish sestina? Let’s keep adding sentences to the setup to shorten this painful attempt. » RELATED: Where to hear poetry in Atlanta One finds little refuge In this mass of cars. That pile in to every open space Landing near and very far. For every quixotic attempt To scratch a way out Is met with too many others lost On your secret alternate route. The Inner Loop is jammed, Maybe head Downtown. Seven lanes of relief on the Connector — But a bus has broken down. Why didn’t I know this? Waze has failed me! Stupid technology sent me out of my way. Should have checked with WSB. Patience left last half hour, Hands clench the wheel. How does 5 mph take this much energy? We move and the tires squeal. Finally passing the bus, Off to the side, unloaded. The pedal hits the mat, the race has begun. All participants have emoted. The horde gallops, flailing, Trying to compose its fury. Furious lane changes and brake checks Signal everyone’s hurry. Conflicting goals breed contempt. Hasty, sweaty humans clash. For their communal suffering for minutes on end Has just bred the newest crash.  » RELATED: Listen: Poetry in Atlanta shows another side of city culture Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.
  • Pushing my deadline back for this Gridlock Guy column was a good idea this week. Procrastination allowed me to attend Buckhead Church’s Good Friday service before sitting down to write. The story of Easter really put me on a thought train about our vehicular travails. So even if you don’t track with Judeo-Christian traditions, there is a theme that is both very powerful and disarming from Holy Week that could ease the painful Atlanta commute. Sacrifice. Selflessness. » RELATED: Atlanta among America’s best places to celebrate Easter 2019 Even if you only believe that the crucifixion-resurrection story is just a fairytale, it is about as lopsided and unjust as they come. Jesus, the blameless and deified Messianic rabbi, got sentenced to death for blasphemy. He predicted and preached that his death was the solvency to save all of humankind from the damnation of their sins. A perfect man willingly died because all other humans are imperfect. This isn’t exactly fair for Him. In the lead up to the terrifying and stultifying events of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter, Jesus of Nazareth selflessly took his time investing in a group of mentees. The Apostles had no idea of the gravity of the yoke they chose to wear. They learned it after the great sacrifice and miracle of Easter. The lesson pushed them into lives of self-sacrifice and eventually on to grizzly deaths for their cause. Yes, this is a heavy consequence, especially when weighed against Atlanta rush hours. By the time of the Last Supper, the last night Jesus was alive, his followers knew he was special. Yet He got down on His hands and knees and then washed their nasty feet. He deserved exactly the opposite treatment, but acquiesced to prove a greater point about sacrifice. » RELATED: 12 hopping ways to celebrate Easter in metro Atlanta Now, imagine being hell bent on an arrival time. You are leading the meeting. You are driving the carpool. You are coaching the soccer game. Your goals are certainly more important than the person you are cutting off or not letting in in front of you. In fact, if that (insert mean moniker here) had any idea how important you were, they wouldn’t drive like such a (insert mean moniker here). The above example may be an exaggeration, but many of us drive in selfish, complacent bubbles. I, for one, find myself drunk with selfishness and apathy behind the wheel when I’m trying to, say, get to my Captain Herb Ballroom in Chamblee in time for my 2:30 p.m. traffic shift. All of these unsavory characteristics cause bad traffic and ill will. Our commutes are hard enough, even when traffic is just sluggish and we are having a great day. But when the clouds of angst, selfishness, apathy, and complacence gather, we end up driving in a metaphorically stormy commute. We know that driving and thunderstorms do not mix. The examples of Messianic sacrifice and bullish self-centeredness may seem extreme, but they illustrate and juxtapose major underlying solutions and problems to our crazy traffic system. An array of secular and spiritual motorists should agree: a little bit of “You first, then me” can go a long way. And that compromise and sacrifice can make going a long way take less time. And even if selflessness saves you zero time, the spread of goodwill can make all parties happier.  » RELATED: Adult things to do on Easter in Atlanta Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.

News

  • The annual Barbacoa & Big Red Festival is a food festival in San Antonio, but organizers are happier when visitors leave their knives at home. >> Read more trending news  Along with stun guns and other weapons, KSAT reported. Officials said they collected more than 600 weapons Sunday during the event, according to the festival’s Facebook page. 'Safety for our patrons is our number one priority. We are very proud to say that not a single altercation or arrest occurred at our festival,' a spokesman for the festival wrote on its Facebook page. Vigilance by festival organizers resulted in no arrests, KENS reported. Event founder DJTONYC said the delays caused by searching bags for weapons were worth it. 'Fast forward to the end of the night, if you want to know how many arrests we had, how many altercations, how many intoxicated people that we had to arrest and kick out, the answer was zero. So I mean, to me, that's successful,' DJTONYC told Spectrum News.
  • Little Caesars is making the Impossible possible for pizza lovers.  The pizza chain announced on Monday it is launching the Impossible Foods’ Supreme pizza, topped with Impossible sausage made from plants, caramelized onions, mushrooms and green peppers. >> Read more trending news  “Little Caesars has a long history of innovation aimed at providing our customers with value, quality, and convenience. Any product we introduce must deliver on those brand pillars while appealing to our loyal, mostly carnivorous, fans,' Little Caesars President and CEO David Scrivano said in a Monday news release. “I’m confident that the Impossible Supreme Pizza will go down as one of the most surprising and satisfying menu sensations of 2019. This is likely just the beginning of plant-based menu items from Little Caesars.” Burger King announced in April it is adding the Impossible Whopper to its menu nationwide. Related: Burger King to offer plant-based Impossible Whopper at US restaurants The plant-based vegan patty, made of water, plant proteins, coconut oil and heme, a natural molecule that gives burgers their distinctive taste and is found in plants, is designed to look and taste like a traditional red meat burger. The same technology used for the Impossible Burgers makes the Impossible sausage possible. “Customers have been asking for Impossible Sausage for years — and when Little Caesars said they wanted a unique, delicious pizza topping, our team developed more than 50 prototypes,” Impossible Foods’ CEO and founder Patrick O. Brown said in a statement. “One product stood out from the rest. You need to taste it to believe it.” The Impossible Supreme Pizza is currently available in three Little Caesars test markets in Ft. Meyers, Florida, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Yakima, Washington. It is $12, not including tax.
  • An Indiana family is calling for the end of lunch shaming after they said their kindergarten student was a victim of the trend. Dwight Howard told WISH is granddaughter, Anya Howard, 6, had to return a tray of hot food after her cafeteria account came up short of the $2.25 total on Friday. At the time, she had 10 cents according to a note sent home that same day. >>Read: Cafeteria worker fired for giving food to student who couldn't pay refuses offer to be rehired The student told the television station she had to walk past about 20 students to get to the back of the line as some students commented on the financial woe. When she got there, she received a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead. But the elder Howard believes that what he called, the “cafeteria walk of shame” was not necessary and humiliated his granddaughter. >> Read more trending news  “They waited until there was a dime left, denied her the opportunity to eat the lunch that she had [been served and tried to pay for] and then she had to go to the end of the line to wait for a PB&J,” Howard told WISH. School officials told the station that other students do get the alternate lunches when they do not have the funds to pay for the hot meal, and that there are payment reminders sent once accounts drop to $5. >>Read: Chef José Andrés hears plight of lunch lady fired after giving lunch to student who couldn’t pay “Any time this happens, our staff looks to handle all of these as discreetly as possible. We do allow elementary students to charge two hot meals before receiving the alternate meal,” Greenwood Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Kent DeKonnick told WISH. DeKonnick said the Howard family has not contacted district officials and didn’t specifically speak about Anya’s case. But a note attached to the balance slip Anya received said her school, Southwest Elementary, would not allow debts. According to the letter, “Starting Monday, 5/13/2019 we are no longer allowing any Café accounts to go into the negative. If there is not enough money in your child’s account to cover the entire meal, they will be receiving a peanut butter sandwich and milk,” WISH reported. >>Read: Fired lunch lady was 'dishonest,' didn't follow rules, food vendor says Howard told WISH he wasn’t informed of his granddaughter’s account balance, or of the policy change prior to Friday’s incident.
  • House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, warned former White House counsel Don McGahn Tuesday that he will be held in contempt of Congress if he does not testify about special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. >>Former White House counsel Don McGahn ignores subpoena, skips Congressional hearingThe warning came Tuesday after McGahn failed to appear before the committee for a scheduled hearing. >> Read more trending news McGahn will be the second Trump official – U.S. Attorney General William Barr was the first – to be held in contempt by Nadler’s committee if he continues to refuse to testify.What happens when someone is held in contempt of Congress? Here’s a look at the process. What is contempt of Congress?  Congress can hold a person in contempt if that person's conduct obstructs congressional proceedings or obstructs an inquiry by a congressional committee. Refusing to testify or refusing to turn over documents can constitute contempt. Where in the Constitution does it say Congress can bring contempt charges?  There is nothing in the Constitution that gives Congress the specific authority to hold someone in contempt. However, the Supreme Court has ruled on several occasions that Congress has the right under some circumstances to compel people to comply with its requests when it is legitimately overseeing an inquiry. What law governs Congress’ ability to hold someone in contempt?  A law enacted in 1938 – 2 USCA § 192 – says that any person who is summoned before Congress who 'willfully makes default, or who, having appeared, refuses to answer any question pertinent to the question under inquiry' shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a maximum $1,000 fine and 12 month imprisonment. So Congress can convict anyone of contempt for any matter?  While its power is broad, there are limits to what Congress can do. Before a congressional witness can be convicted of contempt, it must be established that the person being charged has something to do with a subject that Congress has the constitutional power to legislate. In other words, Congress cannot just go after anyone for anything. Congress must have the authority to look into a matter in order to bring contempt charges against someone who is preventing them from getting information on that matter. Also, a person cannot be made to answer questions if there is a legal basis that allows them not to answer – such as the right against incriminating yourself guaranteed in the Fifth Amendment. What is the process of finding someone in contempt?  Once a contempt citation is issued, a vote must be taken. The vote can take place in a House or Senate committee or on the floor of either the House or Senate.   A simple majority of the body is needed to support a finding of contempt. Then what happens?  After the vote is taken and if the matter passes the full House, the speaker of the House turns the matter over to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. It’s the same process for the Senate – if a vote passes, the matter is turned over to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. The U.S. attorney could then decide if the matter is to be pursued and would bring the issue before a grand jury.  If prosecuted and convicted of contempt of Congress, a person could be fined up to $1,000 and sentenced to a year in jail.  Is there anything else Congress could do?  There is a method that has not been used for many years but is an option for the leadership in Congress. A method called “inherent contempt” would allow a person to be arrested by the sergeant-at-arms of the House or Senate and brought before the accusing legislative body for a trial.  If convicted, the person could be imprisoned until they agree to comply with what Congress wants from them. They can be held in jail until the end of the current congressional session – that would be Jan. 3, 2021 – or they could be released whenever Congress decides to let them go before Jan. 3, 2021. If the House were to invoke inherent contempt charges, technically the person could be imprisoned in a spare room at the Capitol, a Capitol Police holding cell or a nearby hotel. However, this is not likely to happen. Inherent contempt has not been used since 1935. What is likely to happen?  If a deal cannot be worked out, Congress is likely to bring a civil lawsuit asking a judge to get involved. If the judge rules that a person must answer questions or surrender documents, then the person must do so or face contempt of court charges. Contempt of court is usually enforced with daily fines or imprisonment.  
  • A Michigan man was hospitalized and later arrested after police said he swallowed baggies of cocaine while resisting officers. The Detroit News reported that Michigan State Police said 38-year-old Paul Wagner was stopped for an equipment malfunction around 1 a.m. May 12. >> Read more trending news  Police said they saw a baggie of white powder believed to be cocaine inside the vehicle as they approached. When they asked Wagner to hand them the bag, he put it in his mouth and tried to swallow it. WNEM reported that when police tried to physically stop Wagner from swallowing the substance, he revved his vehicle’s engine and tried to put it in gear, according to officials. When police sensed danger to Wagner and the public, they stunned him. Wagner still managed to swallow the baggie. He was taken into custody and admitted to  the hospital for several days. He later passed three small baggies, which police said was determined to be cocaine, based on a preliminary field test, WXYZ reported. Once released from the hospital, MLive reported Wagner was charged with possession of cocaine and resisting and obstructing. WJRT reported Wagner remained in haul Monday under $100,000 bond.
  • Actor Robert De Niro honored longtime friend Al Pacino on Sunday at the American Icon Awards, and then took a shot at President Donald Trump, noting that impeachment and imprisonment would “make America great again,” Variety reported. >> Read more trending news  During the ceremony, De Niro praised Pacino, his “lifelong compatriot,” along with the program’s other inductees -- music producer Quincy Jones and former pro boxer Evander Holyfield. The pair have starred in four movies together, most famously in “The Godfather, Part 2,” in which Pacino uttered the line, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” On Sunday night, De Niro kept Trump close in his thoughts. “You didn’t think you were going to completely get away without a ‘(expletive) Trump’ moment, did you?” De Niro said during his speech. In a video obtained by TMZ, De Niro is heard praising the night’s honorees, saying “They’ve earned our respect and admiration, and they deserve this tribute.” “On the other hand, the individual who currently purports to lead America is not worthy of any tribute,” De Niro said, to a mixture of cheers and boos. “Unless you think of his impeachment and imprisonment as a sort of tribute. Now that’s how you can make America great again.”