WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Redskins aren't in the clear with their team name just yet, even after the Supreme Court ruled Monday that the government can't block trademarks on the basis that they're offensive.
Supreme Court precedent may help the club in its ongoing legal battle, but the fight over the Redskins moniker will continue in social and business realms. The Redskins, Cleveland Indians with their "Chief Wahoo" logo and other professional and college organizations featuring Native American nicknames and mascots cannot be censored by the U.S. government, but that doesn't take the pressure off.
"Just because the Redskins may believe they're in the clear or the Cleveland Indians or even some collegiate teams (think) they're in the clear, that doesn't mean that those that do business with the team, including its sponsors, are going to take their foot off the gas if they believe change is really required," USC professor of sports business David Carter said. "A positive legal ruling may not yield beneficial business impacts in and around the sports business world because we've seen a heightened sensitivity over the years with this topic."
The Supreme Court found that Simon Tam could trademark the Slants as the name of his Asian-American rock band because it would be unconstitutional for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to discriminate against it, citing the First Amendment's free speech protection.
The Redskins have a separate case that had been on hold in federal appeals court while the Slants decision was rendered. Owner Dan Snyder said he was "thrilled" by the ruling, and lawyer Lisa Blatt said it resolves the team's dispute and vindicated its position.
St. John's University intellectual property law center director Jeremy Sheff said while the Supreme Court has essentially shut the door on legal challenges to the Redskins name, "there can still be social pressure brought to bear."
The Change the Mascot campaign released a statement saying it never believed this would be settled in a courtroom. But just as the Indians receive blowback for Chief Wahoo and schools like the University of North Dakota, Miami of Ohio and others moved away from Native American mascots, public opinion won't simply sway one direction because of the Supreme Court's decision.
"That doesn't necessarily reflect what people in the marketplace feel, so if students at a university don't like their slogan, mascot or trademark and/or the marketplace – those who purchase tickets or support the athletic programs or the university in general – I think will still be a driver on what is acceptable and what is not," said Brian LaCorte, a Phoenix-based lawyer for Ballard Spahr. "It will become I think a point for the consumer marketplace to define parameters."
Last September, Forbes said the Redskins were the fifth-most valuable team in the NFL at $2.95 billion. As Carter pointed out, "The Redskins are a historic, an endemic brand, a presence" in the Washington area, and neither their name nor their lack of recent playoff success has hurt their popularity.
A recent Washington Post poll found that 90 percent of 504 Native Americans surveyed nationwide did not think the Redskins name was offensive, and that likely had more sway on the opinions of undecided people than the Supreme Court ruling. The next place for this argument very well may be the team's effort to get a new stadium, and Carter said politicians could use it as a part of the negotiation if taxpayer money is involved.
"If Daniel Snyder wants to get any public dollars for a new stadium, the likelihood of him being able to accomplish that in this environment is really slim until or unless he changes the name of the team," Carter said. "I think it's going to boil down to money and what will the trade-offs be."
If Virginia, the District of Columbia or Maryland approve public money for a new Redskins stadium, Carter said that would be considered "a tacit endorsement that it is OK to keep the name."
BOISE (AP) — A pet squirrel named Joey who gained fame as a crime-fighter might be more of the lover type.
Joey, who police credited with scaring off a burglar trying to break into his home's gun safe, made his long goodbyes earlier this month, then scampered up a backyard apple tree at his Meridian, Idaho, home and hasn't been seen since.
“If I had to guess, he found a girlfriend and they're off doing their squirrel thing,'' said Adam Pearl, who raised Joey in his home for about 10 months.
A University of Idaho scientist said that's probably right for Joey.
“For a lot of mammals, behavior changes once spring comes,'' said Janet Rachlow, a professor at the school's Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences.
Joey made headlines in February after police went to Pearl's home to investigate the burglary and Joey introduced himself. A few hours later, police nabbed a teen burglary suspect with items from Pearl's home and scratches on his hands. The teen told police a squirrel at one home came flying out of nowhere and kept attacking him until he left.
Like many famous crime fighters, Joey had a rough start in life. He was abandoned after falling out of his nest not long after being born and would have died if Adam Pearl and his wife, Carmen, hadn't taken him in.
“His eyes weren't even open,'' Adam Pearl said. “He was about the size of a Bic lighter when we first got him.''
They bought supplies and set an alarm every two hours to feed him. Joey thrived, and soon had the run of the house, using a litterbox and learning to scavenge from bowls of nuts.
“I wanted him to be able to fend for himself,'' Adam Pearl said.
Joey did just that, delighting the family with his antics.
“He'd let anybody pet him when he was in the house,'' Pearl said. “I guess right up until the kid broke in. Right after that is when he started getting aggressive.''
About a month ago, Pearl made the decision to leave a sliding door open after Joey seemed extra rambunctious. Joey eventually ventured out, played with wild squirrels during the day and returned to his bed inside at night.
On June 4, he climbed on Adam's shoulder, where he stayed for several minutes getting his ears scratched before disappearing in the apple tree.
“I think that was his goodbye, looking back on it,'' Adam Pearl said.
Rachlow said Joey might have a little bit of culture shock assimilating into squirrel life, but will likely succeed.
Adam Pearl said Joey liked to chew on items in the house, so there's also relief in being an empty-nester.
“Hopefully, he doesn't bring any little Joeys into the house,'' he said.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The impending closure of a coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Nation could lend momentum to a project being considered by tribal leaders to build a tram at the Grand Canyon to fill the economic void.
The Grand Canyon Escalade project was brought up to Navajo Nation lawmakers and tribal members last fall by former Navajo Nation President Albert Hale as a solution to shrinking revenues from nonrenewable energies, The Arizona Daily Sun reported (http://bit.ly/2rCyJdN). Now, with the Navajo Generating Station looking less likely to be open through 2019, Hale's forecast is starting to play out.
The tram's developer, Confluence Partners, predicts the tribe's cut of annual revenues would total between $18.8 million and $62.9 million, based on visitation and visitor spending. These revenues would rival what the power plant brings in annually. But some people in the area are not OK with developers using the power plant's impending closure to advocate for the tram.
“My relatives are being impacted by NGS, and the Escalade partners were hoping to take advantage of that as an incentive for the Navajo Nation to consider their project,'' said Renae Yellowhorse, an employee with Save the Confluence, which is a nonprofit opposing the tram.
Lamar Whitmer, managing partner with Confluence Partners, said news of the power plant's likely closure hasn't impacted the way the tram's backers are presenting the proposal, though.
Hale, who is now a partner with Confluence Partners, said he thinks the coal plant's dim future is serious enough where it should help the argument for the tram.
“Whether it's the Escalade or any type of project . the fact that the generation station is closing is more reason why these type of projects need to be seriously discussed and seriously considered,'' Hale said. “The project we are looking at is one way to replace those lost revenues, and it's not going to be based on a nonrenewable resource. It is a resource that is going to continue. Tourism is not going to go away.''