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WEEK IN COMMENTS: Nuisance laws, the California judge, suicide coverage, police review board

Sunday, August 8, 2010 | 8:52 p.m. CDT

Every week, readers of ColumbiaMissourian.com offer their opinions on the news and the Missourian's coverage of it. Here, we offer you a digest of some of the conversations we found most interesting.

City Councilwoman Nauser looks to change nuisance law

Comments: 12/Commenters: 7

Will Guldin wrote about Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser's desire to strengthen the enforcement of the city's policy prohibiting multiple unrelated people living in the same residence. Depending on the zoning of a property, more than four unrelated people cannot live together. Nauser wants to make breaking this law a nuisance violation, which has heavier penalties.

Ray Shapiro said that the city's policy preventing multiple unrelated people from living together is unreasonable and that enforcing the policy further would be unfair to residents. Shapiro says there are bonds besides those that are familial that can be just as important and that a better way to determine whether too many people are living in the same house could be to look at the number of inhabitants compared to the property's number of bedrooms.

John Schultz questioned whether it's really roommates' relationships to each other that matter or whether the actual number of people and their activities are more important in determining whether a household is being a nuisance.

TODAY'S QUESTION: Did the judge who overturned California's gay marriage ban make the right choice?

Comments: 9/Commenters: 4

The question was prompted by last's ruling by a federal judge in California overturning Proposition 8, saying that it violated the equal protection and due process rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Russell Perkins said that the government has no business becoming involved in love between two consenting adults. Perkins says that gay marriage does not affect heterosexual people and he does not understand their opposition. Ray Shapiro said that "the government should not be involved in legislating marriage at all."

Carlos Sanchez said that the judge overturning Proposition 8 was an example of the government's disregard for voters.

Citizens Police Review Board: Police acted appropriately in raid

Comments: 7/Commenters: 5

Abby Rogers reported on the Citizen Police Review Board's 4-3 decision Wednesday night that Columbia SWAT team members involved in a February raid acted appropriately. The board did not allow any of the 30 people who attended the meeting to speak before it voted. Susan Smith was one of the board members who argued against public comment.

John Schultz, Donald Warren and Mark Flakne questioned the appropriateness of Smith's conduct at the meeting.

DEAR READER: How much detail is too much in reporting on suicides?

Comments: 4/Commenters: 4

Missourian editor Tom Warhover reflected on a conversation between news people about press coverage of suicides that he participated in and the degree to which the Missourian's policies on reporting suicides mesh with recommendations from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

Alysha Love said that one of the findings of Nicholas Christakis and James Fowlerin their book, "Connected: The Amazing Power of Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives," was that there were more suicides "after newspapers wrote feature stories about the life and death of the person who died as opposed to stories that were more clipped and straightforward." Love says it's important for journalists to keep in mind the weight their stories can carry and not write pieces that could give a "positive view of suicide."


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