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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


A pat on the what?

Maternal instinct flew off to La-La Land


It's not every day that people get played by a sweet-faced 9-year-old.

One who has the bravado to steal a car in Tacoma and lead authorities on a dangerous high-speed chase.

One who showed smarts to get past security at Sea-Tac Airport.

One who duped Southwest Airlines to fly away to Texas because he needed to get away -- just like the airline ad says.

For his adventures last week, 4-foot-9 Semaj Booker was charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor.

I wrote that Pierce County prosecutors should take into consideration his tender age before coming down too hard.

They say they have never charged a 9-year-old. Consideration for the age of the thin fourth-grader ought to soften the blow of justice, right? I was on the fence, leaning toward leniency.

Now I'm beginning to be swayed by those hardened law-and-order types, especially after a national TV tabloid picked up the story, then aired an interview Wednesday featuring Semaj and his mother.

Semaj came off remorseless. Even stranger, his mom, Sakinah Booker, exuded maternal pride over his exploits. The whole thing leaves you shaking your head.

The interview could have been a lens onto a lesson learned between a mother and child.

But what happened left a thought: When should you be able to revoke someone's parental license?

I figured the mother and son would spend the bulk of their airtime apologizing to the person whose car got stolen; to authorities who pursued Semaj in the chase; to airport security and airline officials who already have their hands full with terror fears.

But, instead we got an "attaboy" topped with a tepid mother-and-son hug, and his mother saying with a smile, "Don't ever do it again!"

Rather than holding her son accountable for actions that could have harmed others, we hear her admiration for his precocity.

In a quote released earlier Wednesday, the mother said her son showed her that "'I'm going to achieve anything I want to do; I'm going to just do it.'"

Family values have just left the building, folks.

"I planned it all out in advance," Semaj said during the interview, although that comment also did not air. But the statement will no doubt interest prosecutors, who want to know if Semaj had the mental capacity to understand what he is accused of doing.

On the air, Semaj said he went to Texas because "it's always sunny."

The day after the car chase ended -- he was found behind the wheel of a stolen Acura that knocked into a tree -- he thoughtfully hopped a bus to the airport.

He said on the air that he scanned the airport monitors and briefly contemplated catching a flight to Tokyo -- where the street-racing movie, "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" is set.Thanks to "Inside Edition," we know he's a fan of the film's high-speed car maneuvers.

I put it this way because mother and son seem to be blissfully ignorant of the peeved and aggrieved people -- a car-theft victim, airport officials and prosecutors -- Semaj left behind.

The whole episode sends Semaj the wrong message -- if you do wrong, you land on national TV basking in the glow of mommy love.

The kid needs to be grounded. If his mom won't do it, prosecutors should.

Prosecutors last night said they are going forward with the criminal charges -- including theft and eluding -- against Semaj, who has returned to the area.

There are real consequences for reckless actions. It's not child's play. Better learn it now, not later.

Jamieson, who is black, points out the obvious. The kid's mother seems not to understand the gravity of her son's actions. He could have been killed at any point. He has a poor differentiation between the real world and video games. At this point it's fair to ask what his mother is teaching him?

And as I said before, and Jamieson found out the hard way, this family has issues.

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