Mendocino County Today: October 9, 2013
by AVA News Service, October 9, 2013
JUSTICE FOR SUSAN KEEGAN!
by Karen Feiden
Plea to DA Eyster: Compel the Divorce Mediator to Talk.
Dr. & Mrs. Keegan
We believe it is urgent that Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster subpoena Ukiah attorney and divorce mediator Norm Rosen so that he can talk freely about what happened in his office the day before Susan Keegan’s death.
The Justice4Susan Committee gave Norm Rosen a courtesy call on October 3 to alert him to this public request. His comment: “I’ll wait to hear from Dave Eyster — if I do.”
DA Eyster, Mr. Rosen is waiting.
Norm Rosen was the mediator for Susan and Peter Keegan’s divorce settlement. On November 9, 2010, Peter “went ballistic” with rage in his office as financial terms were being discussed, according to what Susan told at least two friends.
One day after that meeting, Susan was dead.
Mr. Rosen has told law enforcement authorities, and family, that attorney/client privilege prohibits him from talking about the blow-up, or sharing any notes that he might have taken. Confidentiality is a pillar of his profession, and we respect that. But our reading of the law suggests he has an obligation to speak with the DA.
He may decline to come forward voluntarily, but Mr. Eyster has the authority to compel his testimony.
What the Courts Have Said
Mediation privilege is strongly protected in California, most recently in a 2011 state Supreme Court decision, Cassel v. Superior Court — but exceptions do exist.
California’s stringent standards focus on civil cases. Most communication that occurs during a mediation is protected “in any arbitration, administrative adjudication, civil action, or other noncriminal proceeding” (California Evidence Code, Section 1119). Criminal proceedings are not included on that list.
When a crime is involved, the balance of concerns shifts. For example, in a case involving juvenile vandalism (Rinaker v Superior Court), the California Court of Appeals decided in favor of a mediator’s obligation to testify, observing that the confidentiality provision of Section 1119 was not “designed to overcome the right to a fair trial.”
Likewise, in the Cassel decision on mediation privilege, the court stated that “judicially crafted exceptions are permitted only where due process is implicated.”
And, in a case relating to a California home foreclosure, where privilege is surely less urgent than for a homicide, the court indicated that “the need for the confidentiality protection” could “give way to significant competing public-policy concerns” (Olam v. Congress Mortgage Company). In its analysis, the court acknowledged the potential harm “to the values that underlie the mediation privilege,” but concluded that the mediator’s testimony offered “a contribution of sufficient magnitude” and was “essential to doing justice.”
The court also said “the most consequential testimony from the mediator would focus on how the plaintiff acted and the mediator’s perceptions of her physical, emotional, and mental condition” (analysis of Olam by Cassandra Franklin, Mediation’s Confidentiality Controversy (http://www.dailyjournal.com/cle.cfm?show=CLEDisplayArticle&qVersionID=80&eid=872569&evid=1 ) ).
Three legal precedents, then, suggest that the DA should require Rosen to talk about what happened that day in his office: because his testimony could advance the cause of a fair trial; because a homicide victim is entitled to due process; and because prosecuting an unsolved homicide is obviously a competing public-policy concern.
Norm Rosen and his wife, Karen, made a donation to the Ukiah Community Center Food Bank in Susan’s honor shortly after her death. In line with Jewish custom, their contribution was a multiple of $18. That is because every Hebrew letter has a numerical value — and chai, the Hebrew word for life, has a numerical value of 18. “Giving chai,” in their tradition, is a good omen and a way to celebrate life in all its vitality.
It was a kind gesture, one that Susan would have appreciated. But the DA can give Norm Rosen an opportunity to act with even more generosity on his recognition that life is sacrosanct — by compelling him to provide evidence.
The rage that Mr. Rosen saw in his office one day before Susan’s death is only one element in the case, and may or may not be pivotal. But it demands to be heard.
(Karyn Feiden conducted the legal research and consulted informally with other California attorneys to assemble this article on behalf of the Justice4Susan Committee.) ¥¥
INTERESTING new facts about the odd death of Patrick Guzman, 70, have been revealed by Tony Reed of the Fort Bragg Advocate. Reed ought to get a finder's fee from the Sheriff's office for not only locating the stuff that led to the discovery of Guzman's remains, but Reed has now added some telling new details about Guzman's death. (The Sheriff's Department work on the case borders on grossly negligent.) Guzman was found a week after he died, his death occurring on Labor Day. Reed, poking around on the bluffs nearly a week later where Guzman's car was found running with no sign of Guzman, spotted items, including a gun, belonging to the dead man on the rocks below. Guzman's body was not visible from the bluffs. It had wedged in boulders between the bluffs and the ocean. Investigators had not looked for his remains from below the bluffs until Reed alerted them of his finds. Guzman had suffered a large caliber bullet wound to his side from the odd gun he was known to possess, which fires a mix of high velocity bullets and shotgun rounds. Reporter Reed has now learned that Guzman's daughter, Tracy Guzman, believes her father was murdered because she found that her father's home in Fort Bragg had been robbed of three guns, a computer and printer, and welding equipment on or about the day of his death. Ms. Guzman also said it was she who drove her father's Cadillac back to Fort Bragg a week after her father's remains were found on the bluffs north of Westport. The vehicle, it seems, had sat there unsecured since Guzman's death. Sheriff's Capt. Greg Van Patten said Tuesday that the investigation into the cause of death remains open, and that he is waiting for the results of blood-alcohol and toxicology tests to come back from the state's Department of Justice lab. Van Patten has said no evidence of another person was found in or near the dead man's car.
TRACY GUZMAN WRITES: On September 8th 2013 Patrick Joseph Guzman's body was found at West Point in Fort Bragg California. His car was found on the turnoff at West Point marker 83. I drove the car back to Patrick Guzman's residence approximately one hour after Patrick Guzman’s body was found. The house where Patrick Guzman lives was ransacked and three guns and cash were missing as was a computer and printer, a welder and an hydraulic jack. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Department has not returned my calls. They really need a suicide. It has been very upsetting to the family and very curious how one can shoot oneself in the side and then reach a 150 feet off of a cliff. His body lay there for seven days. He was not in the water but between two cliffs. Upon returning to the scene we discovered my father's hat approximately five feet from the area in which he was tossed off the cliff.
“THE FACT that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies. . . Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that 'the buck stops here.' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.” — Senator Barack Obama March 16, 2006 Congressional Record
THE GRATON RESORT & CASINO will open in Rohnert Park on November 5th. It's huge and glittery, complete with multiple restaurants, one of which will be presided over by a famous chef. It will also represent a huge blow to all the lesser casinos to the north, from River Rock at Alexander Valley north to the dreary gambling parlors on each of the reservations of Mendocino County. River Rock draws a large number of Bay Area gamblers, mostly Asian, who will now opt for Glitzville in Rohnert Park. River Rock used to get them. Mendocino County's casinos, including a big one planned for Pinoleville just north of Ukiah, and within hollering distance of the long established casino at Coyote Valley, might need to be re-thought.
ORANGE COUNTY, California, specifically the fiasco known as Irvine. This so-called “city” was once a ranch comprising hundreds of thousands of acres consolidated out of old Spanish land grants by one James Irvine, an Irish immigrant who made a fortune selling groceries and dry goods during the California Gold Rush and parlayed it into real estate — including eventually the nearly 200-square-mile tract of creosote bush and sagebrush forty-odd miles south of nascent Los Angeles. The so-called city named after Mr. Irvine — and still largely controlled by a private real estate development company he founded — prides itself on being rationally planned. By this they mean that all the angles have been figured out for producing massive volumes of exquisitely-tuned suburban sprawl at a nice profit. One thing this demonstrates is that rational planning is not the same thing as intelligence because the end result on-the-ground is a nightmare of the most extreme car dependency in the nation, arguably even worse than Los Angeles. That it is also a nightmare of crushing uniformity, disconnection, boredom, and ennui probably matters less because the essence of the place’s character is that it has no future. There is absolutely no way that the American people can continue their Happy Motoring frolic for another generation, yet the Irvine Company is still busy slapping together new monocultures of housing pods, strip malls, and all the other usual furnishings with the kind of stupid confidence of people intoxicated on Rotary Club bullshit — which is to say zeal minus consciousness. It is the same frame-of-mind that produces the famous Orange County right wing politics. — James Kunstler
JOHN GOMEZ wonders why the DA's legal notice of assets seized and forfeited appear exclusively in the Laytonville weekly. Say you're a Gualala resident, or live in Boonville, or Ukiah or even Willits, the sprawling Laytonville suburb, and you get your assets seized. How can you possibly know when to appeal if public notice appears far, far from your home? The whole point of public notice is that they appear in your hometown paper.
SPEAKING of public notice, the Haz Mobile's appearances at the Boonville Fairgrounds are never noticed in your Beloved Community Newspaper. I sued the guy who runs the Haz agency for the County way back in small claims. And won. Was the guy corrected? Noooooo. But, strictly speaking, you can't place public advertising on the basis of your likes or dislikes of this or that publisher. However and be that as it is, over the years, many public agencies have retaliated against your Beloved Community Newspaper by routing publicly funded advertising clear around Boonville. DA Massini used to do it. The Supervisors used to do it.
Mike Sweeney, by far Mendocino County's most interesting man, and easily the County's most thoroughly reinvented personality, not to say outback America's most intriguing garbage bureaucrat, understandably avoids your BCN, probably because he doesn't like to be reminded that for years he was a member of the murderous Stanford political cult that became the Symbionese Liberation Army. Sweeney subsequently blew up a hangar at the old Navy air field west of Santa Rosa in 1980, almost killing a young man asleep inside the hangar and, in 1990, either bombed his ex-wife, Judi Bari, or conspired to bomb her. And got clean away with all of it, although the "mystery" of the famous Bari event could easily be un-mystified with a few dna subpoenas. But, as it stands, and getting back to the Haz Mobile, if a resident of Anderson Valley wants to safely off load his or her pipe bombs in 2013, he or she probably won't know when the Haz Mobile will be in Boonville.
STATEMENT OF THE DAY: We tend to be patronizing about the poor in a very specific sense, which is that we tend to think, 'Why don't they take more responsibility for their lives?' And what we are forgetting is that the richer you are the less responsibility you need to take for your own life because everything is taken care of for you. And the poorer you are the more you have to be responsible for everything about your life.... Stop berating people for not being responsible and start to think of ways to provide the poor with the luxury that we all have, which is that a lot of decisions are taken for us. If we do nothing, we are on the right track. For most of the poor, if they do nothing, they are on the wrong track. — Scarcity, Mullainathan and Shafir
US BUDGET & DEBT TALKS TO FOCUS ON CUTTING SOCIAL SECURITY, MEDICARE
By Patrick Martin
Spokesmen for the Obama administration and congressional Republicans indicated Sunday they were preparing to shift the focus of the ongoing Washington budget and debt discussions to the major entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare.
Both the Democrats and the Republicans are using the partial shutdown of federal government operations and the looming October 17 deadline for raising the federal debt ceiling, to create a crisis atmosphere to justify cuts that are overwhelmingly opposed by the American people.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives precipitated the federal shutdown by insisting that any resolution to continue funding the federal government after the beginning of the fiscal year October 1 had to be linked to defunding Obama’s healthcare legislation, the Affordable Care Act.
House Speaker John Boehner signaled a turn away from that stand in the course of an interview Sunday on the ABC News program “This Week,” when he told interviewer George Stephanopoulos that the federal shutdown and debt ceiling issues were now linked, and that he would insist on cuts in entitlement programs as the price of authorizing any new federal borrowing.
He made clear that, despite the right-wing populist demagogy of the Tea Party, the real enemy of the Republicans is not Obama, but American working people as a whole, and particularly the tens of millions of retired workers who rely on Social Security for their income and Medicare for their health care.
“Let’s look at what’s driving the problem,” he said. “10,000 baby-boomers like me retiring, every single day. 70,000 this week. 3.5 million this year. And it’s not like there’s money in Social Security or Medicare. The governments, over the last 30 years, have spent it all.”
“We know these programs are important to tens of millions of Americans,” he continued. “But if we don’t address the underlying problems, they are not sustainable.”
In the Orwellian language favored in Washington, making programs “sustainable” means, not providing the funds required to pay guaranteed benefits, but slashing benefits, cutting eligibility, raising the retirement age and effectively destroying Social Security and Medicare in the name of “saving” them.
At the same time, Boehner flatly rejected even a penny in additional taxation on the super-rich, although the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the billionaires has reached unprecedented levels. “Very simple,” he declared. “We’re not raising taxes.”
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew gave the Obama administration view on the budget and debt conflict, appearing on five Sunday television programs. He emphasized Obama’s willingness to make concessions on entitlement spending, once Congress has passed a continuing resolution to fund the government, and lifted the debt ceiling to allow normal borrowing by the Treasury.
White House officials and congressional Democrats have repeatedly emphasized that they had accepted the spending level set by the Republican-controlled House, which is $70 billion below the level proposed by the Senate, but were not willing to scrap Obamacare, the healthcare program devised in collaboration with the drug and insurance companies to cut costs for corporate America and the government.
In the course of his interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Lew said, “the president has been and remains prepared to negotiate on fiscal policy. He has spent much of the last three years trying to find the sensible middle ground. He’s made offer after offer, negotiation after negotiation.”
Lew added, “We are happy to negotiate on reasonable policies with entitlement reform and tax reform that closes loopholes. That’s something that we would like to do.”
In the coded language of the corporate-backed politicians, “entitlement reform” means cuts in benefits for Medicare and Social Security recipients, while “tax reform that closes loopholes” means no increase in tax rates for the super-rich, but rather a shell game in which rates are actually lowered for the wealthy, with the revenue supposedly preserved by closing “loopholes.” In practice, this means a new round of tax cuts for the billionaires and the corporations they control.
Despite the public show of intransigent opposition and the increasingly vituperative attacks on each other, the Democrats and Republicans share a common class agenda: imposing the burden of the financial bankruptcy of American capitalism on the backs of working people.
Neither party proposes even the slightest incursion into the wealth of the financial aristocracy. Both of them blame the dismal fiscal projections for the federal budget on “demographic” factors. In other words, working people are living too long, a “problem” which can only be resolved by raising the retirement age or, as a consequence of cuts in healthcare and living standards more generally, engineering a reduction in life expectancy.
The stage-managed character of the budget crisis was demonstrated by the decision by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to recall most civilian Pentagon workers so that the vast US military-intelligence apparatus will resume operations at nearly pre-shutdown levels.
Hagel cited the bill passed by Congress and signed by Obama September 30, authorizing continuation of paychecks to uniformed military personnel.
He said that Pentagon lawyers had determined that the law allows him to end furloughs for everyone who contributes to the “morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members.”
Some 350,000 of the 400,000 furloughed civilian employees of the Pentagon have been called back to work, including those engaged in commissary, payroll, administration, health care, supply chain, training, weapons production and intelligence functions.
Congressional Republicans and Democrats both supported Hagel’s action, and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Rand Beers followed suit, saying he would begin calling back civilian employees of the Coast Guard and other DHS agencies under the same interpretation of the law.
The result is that the federal “shutdown” hardly impacts the military, police and domestic spying functions of the government at all, but has a devastating effect on social services and on those agencies which regulate business operations, from the financial markets to slaughterhouses.
(Courtesy, Socialist Network)
JAPAN ASKS FOR WORLD'S HELP ON FUKUSHIMA LEAKS
By Al Jazeera America
'My country needs your knowledge and expertise,' Prime Minister Abe says.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday that Japan is open to receiving overseas help to contain widening disaster at the crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima, where radioactive water leaks <http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/9/3/japan-to-fund-icewalltostopr eactorleaks.html> and other mishaps are now reported almost daily.
"We are wide open to receive the most advanced knowledge from overseas to contain the problem," Abe said in his English speech to open the conference on energy and environment at an international science forum in Kyoto in western Japan.
"My country needs your knowledge and expertise," he said.
Despite Abe's reassurances to the International Olympic Committee <http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/9/7/tokyo-awarded-ashostcityof20 20olympicgames.html> last month that the leaks were "under control," many Japanese believe he was glossing over problems at the plant.
Abe did not say whether he still thinks the leaks are under control, or give any specifics about foreign participation.
His comments come just days after the plant's operator acknowledged that highly contaminated water spilled from a storage tank as workers tried to fill it to the top.
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant says at least 110 gallons spilled when workers overfilled a storage tank without a gauge that could have warned them of the danger.
A Long List Of Leaks
The amount is tiny compared to the untold thousands of tons of radioactive water that have leaked, much of it into the Pacific Ocean, since a massive earthquake and tsunami wrecked the plant and sent it into meltdown in 2011. But the error is one of many the operator has committed as it struggles to manage a seemingly endless, tainted flow.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said Thursday workers detected the water spilling from the top of one large tank when they were patrolling the site the night before. The tank is one of about 1,000 erected on the grounds around the plant to hold water used to cool the melted nuclear fuel in the broken reactors.
TEPCO said the water then spilled out of a concrete barrier surrounding the tank and believed that most of it reached the sea via a ditch next to the river. The company later said, however, radiation levels in sea water samples taken just off the plant's coast remained below detectable levels.
The overspill, the latest of several mishaps in less than a month, prompted the Nuclear Regulation Authority to summon the utility president and reprimand him in public.
Katsuhiko Ikeda, administrative head of the agency, ordered TEPCO President Naomi Hirose on Friday to ensure better on-site management and prevent human error, and submit improvement plans in a report.
"It is extremely regrettable that contaminated water leaked because of human error," Ikeda said. "We must say on-site management is extremely poor."
The new leak is sure to add to public concern and criticism of TEPCO and the government for their handling of the nuclear crisis. In August, the utility reported a 300-metric-ton leak <http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/8/20/tepco-finds-new-radioactive leakatfukushima.html> (about 80,000 gallons — roughly equal to the amount of water used by 200 American families each day) from another storage tank, one of a string of leaks in recent months.
That came after the utility and the government acknowledged that contaminated groundwater was seeping into ocean at a rate of 80,000 gallons per day for some time.
'These are not accidents'
TEPCO spokesman Masayuki Ono told an urgent news conference Thursday that the overflow occurred at a 450-ton tank without a water gauge and standing on an unlevel ground, slightly tilting toward the sea.
The tank was already nearly full, but workers pumped in more contaminated water into it to maximize capacity as the plant was facing a serious storage crunch. Recent rainstorms that flooded tank yards and the subsequent need to pump up and store contaminated rainwater also added to the shortage, he said.
"We could have, and should have, prevented the overflow," he said.
TEPCO said the tank and four others in the same area were already filled up to 98% of its design capacity, as in many other tanks elsewhere on the plant.
Tetsuro Tsutsui, an engineer and expert of industrial tanks, said the latest problem was emblematic of how TEPCO runs the precarious plant. He said it was "unthinkable" to fill tanks up to the top, or build them on tilted ground without building a level foundation.
"That's only common sense," Tsutsui, also a member of a citizens group of experts proposing safety measures for the plant. "But that seems to be the routine at the Fukushima Dai-ichi. I must say these are not accidents. There must be a systematic problem in the way things are run over there."
Experts have faulted TEPCO for sloppiness in its handling not only of the water management but also in other daily operations. A list of mishaps just over the past few weeks: * On Oct. 2, some 4 tons of contaminated rainwater leaked when workers pumped it into a wrong tank that was also nearly full, resulting in most of it seeping into the ground.
On Sept. 27, a water-treatment machine failed hours after resuming a test-run following months-long repairs, clogged up by a piece of rubber lining that got mistakenly left inside the unit. The rubber fragment has since been removed, with the unit back in operation. The unit stalled again Friday after an alarm went off. The cause is still being investigated.
On Sept. 19, a fire-fighting water pipe was damaged during debris removal operations, causing an 80 gallon water leak. * Experts have faulted TEPCO for sloppiness in its handling of the water management, including insufficient tank inspection records, lack of water gauges, as well as connecting hoses lying directly on the grass-covered ground. Until recently, only one worker was assigned to 500 tanks in a two-hour patrol.
(Courtesy, Al Jazeera America)
IMPROVING THE SAFETY AND HEALTH OF MENDOCINO COUNTY STUDENTS THROUGH SAFE ROUTES TO SCHOOL
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs are designed to encourage children, including children with disabilities, to safely walk, bike, or roll to school. It is a State and Federal funding source, as well as a worldwide movement that promotes health, safety, concern for the environment, and can greatly reduce traffic congestion around schools and neighborhoods by reducing the number of car trips taken. SRTS programs typically use a combination of strategies to improve condition for walking and bicycling to school. Examples of strategies include engineering strategies, such as infrastructure improvements to improve crossings and promote traffic calming; and education and encouragement programs, such as providing pedestrian and bicycle safety education to children and parents or holding encouragement events like Walk to School Day. SRTS programs recognize that rural communities are unique and have different needs than urban areas. Creative approaches are often needed to develop walking and bicycling plans for small communities that wish to preserve rural characteristics. For example, residences are more dispersed in rural areas, making it necessary to travel longer distances between home and destinations. Many students are bused to school. Minimal or non-existent pedestrian and bicycle facilities can make walking and biking dangerous, particularly along narrow, winding rural roads. By determining the specific needs and challenges of students walking and bicycling to school in rural regions we are able to assess where resource gaps exist and how best to support active transportation projects. Designating walking paths that are separated from roadways and coordinating adults to walk to school with groups of children (Walking School Buses) are just two examples of effective ways to overcome some of the challenges of incorporating SRTS programs in rural areas. By addressing these differences with a lens that is appropriate to each region and school site, many rural schools have been very successful in implementing SRTS programs that are not only effective in increasing walking and bicycling, but are also engaging, educational, fun and contribute to a healthier, more connected community. Because every school has unique characteristics and therefore different needs, Mendocino County is working with Alta Planning + Design to develop its first county-wide Safe Routes to Schools Plan for unincorporated Mendocino County. The plan, sponsored by the Mendocino Council of Governments, will assist the County in identifying opportunities to improve traffic safety around schools and promote health through active transportation. The County has developed a website with information about the project which can be found at http://mendocinosrts.weebly.com/index.html. In order to develop a more robust plan, Mendocino County representatives are asking the public to provide input on known safety concerns nears schools by logging onto the project website at http://mendocinosr2sworkshop.weebly.com/provide-input.html. For additional information or to find out what SRTS activities are taking place in your community, please contact Dana Dickman at email@example.com or 503-230-9862.
THE 3RD ANNUAL SALMON FILM FESTIVAL will take place at Portuguese Hall in Fort Bragg on November 8-10, 2013. The Festival features over 30 films on salmon ecology, restoration, and culture. Also featured are salmon foods, educational exhibits, local speakers, and tribal representatives. The Festival runs on Friday, Nov. 8 from 5 pm to 10 pm, Saturday, Nov. 9 from 10 am to 10 pm, and Sunday, Nov. 10 from 10 am to 5 pm. A different set of films will be shown each hour; a festival pass allows unlimited access. A pass for the entire weekend costs only $20; $10 will buy a single session. Tickets can be booked online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/481158. More information is at www.salmonfilmfestival.org. — Roberta Werdinger