Quick Notes: Rachelle Waterman Case, Dan Halloran’s Slowdown Battle, and Romania’s Witch Queen

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  January 26, 2011 — 10 Comments

A few quick news notes for you today.

Did Religious Conflict Play A Role? The News Tribune in Alaska reports on the retrial of Rachelle Waterman, accused of plotting the 2004 death of her mother with two older men when she was 16. The first trial resulted in a hung jury, and now the Ketchikan District Attorney is trying again with a second indictment. At issue in Waterman’s defense is whether she truly meant for the two men to kill her mother, and what her mental state was at the time she allegedly discussed having her mother killed. In recent testimony from the woman’s father, Carl “Doc” Waterman, he claims that there was religious conflict in the home.

“He said Lauri was stricter on Rachelle than he was on some things but he never saw any evidence she hit their daughter and Rachelle never told him about anything like that. Neither of them used physical punishment, Waterman said under questioning by prosecutor Jean Seaton of Sitka. Other witnesses have testified that Rachelle told them her mother tried to push her down the stairs, became angry if her grades slipped, and withheld food, telling her she was fat. Prosecutors say she told even more to Jason Arrant and Brian Radel, the men who carried out the killing. Lauri Waterman was a strict Catholic and was upset when Waterman began experimenting with Wicca, a pagan religion and form of witchcraft, Doc Waterman said.”

This case got a lot of Internet buzz when it first made the news in 2004, due to the fact that Waterman had (and still has) a LiveJournal account. Many noted that Waterman claimed to have been grounded over her interest in Wicca (among other things). Now it’s for the jury to decide if grown two men in their 20s (one of whom was dating Waterman) took the irrational rantings of a disgruntled teenager as mandate for murder, or if Waterman, as the prosecution attests, was the mastermind for the killing. I’ll keep you posted as this case develops.

Dan Halloran and the New York Snow Removal Controversy: The New York Times looks at the ongoing story regarding allegations that New York City sanitation workers staged a slowdown after the Dec. 26 blizzard. At the center of this story is New York City councilman (and out Heathen) Dan Halloran, who claims that sanitation workers came to his office and informed him of the planned slowdown (allegedly to embarrass Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg). But evidence has been hard to pin down, and Halloran currently risks professional embarrassment. Recently, Halloran has been softening his story as he nears giving testimony to a federal  grand jury.

In an article that appeared in The New York Post on Dec. 30, he said the workers had been told “to take off routes” and “not do the plowing of some of the major arteries in a timely manner.” “They were told to make the mayor pay,” Mr. Halloran said in the article, “for the layoffs, the reductions in rank of the supervisors, shrinking the rolls of the rank and file.” More recently, the councilman has said the workers were not explicitly told to take part in a slowdown, but were subtly informed there was no need to rush while clearing the snow.

The NYT piece runs down Halloran’s career so far, including his election as an out Theodsman, run-ins with parking enforcement, and recent bankruptcy and divorce proceedings. Halloran now says that his goal “was never to make headlines or anger people,” but that damage may already be done, and he could be forced to give up the names of those who came to him when he testifies. For more on Dan Halloran, check out this recent Pagan+Politics interview.

BBC and a Witch Queen: The Romanian witch tax story keeps on chugging along, this time the BBC interviews “Queen Witch” Mama Bratara, who has threatened to curse the lawmakers.

“Life for witches, astrologers and spiritual mediums in Romania has always been tough. Under the Communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu, the supernatural industry was banned, and now witches say they are being hit again – this time by new tax laws. Once Ceausescu was ousted from power the witches re-emerged to carry on their craft. Their work has a considerable following, particularly in rural areas. Now the government has angered the witches again by making them register as self-employed and requiring them to pay tax, social security, and pension contributions.”

I recommend checking out the video embedded in the story, which gives an interesting look at the formidable Mama Bratara.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    I thought the slowdown in NYC plowing was because motorists abandoned their cars in the middle of the street.

    The plot thickens…

  • AcidQueen

    Dan Halloran threw his heathenry under the bus to get elected, almost everyone in his theod has turned their backs on him because of it, and–as you can see–he is not acting in a very honourable manner. I really don't think he deserves the honour of being considered a Heathen.

    • grimmorrigan

      Can you post a link or a reference that suppports this?

    • AcidQueen: "Dan Halloran threw his heathenry under the bus to get elected."

      The fact is that Halloran was attaced by the Democrats on account of his Heathenism, and he did a relatively decent job of sticking up for himself and for Heathenry.

      • He was attacked by _A_ Democrat…and one acting from a decidedly NON-Liberal point-of-view. OTOH, the Republicans, especially the most Conservative of them, have a far "better" record of demonizing non-Christians. It was "out of character" for an alleged Liberal, and also why I endorsed Halloran…because nobody who attacks Pagans or members of other minority religions…on religious grounds…should be elected to ANYTHING in this country.

  • Pitch313

    I read a suggestion that, so long as Mayor Bloomberg's Manhattan street and neighborhood got cleared (lots of photos show that it did), nobody in authority cared all that hard about the Outer Buroughs. And how hard would it be for some supervisors cheesed off at the Bloomberg administration to hint that a slow down of snow plows could embarrass him? Or for some drivers to hear something like that?

    Halloran is an NYC Councilman. Doing stuff that Council members do. I doubt that Heathenry of Paganism has much to do with what he claimed first and what he is telling a grand jury.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      I heard in coverage of the situation that concentration of snow removal in Manhattan is an old grievance, though not that it emerged in this case. On a basis of pure logic, I suppose the cost of unremoved snow in Manhattan is greater than in the outer boroughs because of the amount of business traffic obstructed. But that's unlikely to be compelling to a Bronx neighborhood with its streets blocked.

    • Halloran represents a section of Queens aka one of the outer boroughs so I can see why he would be cheesed. As a person from Queens (tho not Dan's section, I'm 2 bits over) I can tell you that even though Manhattan is ALWAYS cleaned first the outer boroughs have never ever been abanonded for three days. It stopped snowing Monday, I couldn't get out of my house until Wednesday. NOTHING was plowed. Not even the major throughfair that I live by was plowed (not to mention the Long Island Railroad stop by me but that's a whole nother case entirely) until then.

      Most of the local coverage here harps on Halloran not really being forthcoming and no one collaborating his story. I don't think his religion has really been brought up (tho give the Post time, I'm sure they'll make an Odin crack if they haven't already, most seem to be taking the fact that he's crowing so much because he's from Queens.

    • Pagan Puff Pieces

      Even Manhattan, in places not too far from Bloomberg's neighborhood, had some lax plowing, depending on the streets.

      I don't expect the city of New York to be the master of the elements, but I do know that they practically have an army of plows and ice ready to go for situations like this. It was unusual.

  • ES1966

    I live in Brooklyn near the Queens line and we still had some streets that weren't plowed by Wednesday.

    Part of the problem is that when you get that much snow there really isn't any place to plow it to.

    Second, the city uses garbage trucks to do the plowing, They're rear wheel drive vehicles are are suboptimal for anything but the lightest of snowfalls.

    Third, the streets in most of the city were laid out over a hundred years ago. They were never intended for the number and the size of the vehicles that use them today.