Mendocino County Today: October 27, 2013
by AVA News Service, October 26, 2013
A READER POINTS to the relevant Brown Act law and wonders why the Supervisors don't bother to report out of closed session in the legally mandated manner. We wonder too. We also wonder why closed session discussions aren't described in at least a cursory manner so the public has some idea what the County leadership is discussing. (Hint: They don't report because they don't have to; that's at least part of the reason.)
ACCORDING TO THE OCTOBER 8, 2013 AGENDA (the last meeting before County Counsel Tom Parker announced on October 16 that the Board had voted in closed session to release “a limited number of unredacted County records” related to the marijuana cultivation program to the feds), the October 8 closed session agenda items were:
“(a) Pursuant to Government Code Section 54957.6 - Conference with Labor Negotiator — Agency Negotiators: Carmel J. Angelo, Kyle Knopp, Tammi Weselsky, Juanie Cranmer, and Donna Williamson; Employee Organization(s): All
“(b) Pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(4) — Conference with Legal Counsel - Initiation of Litigation: One Case
“(c) Pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(2) – Conference with Legal Counsel — Anticipated Litigation: Significant Exposure to Litigation-One Case” . . .
PRESUMABLY the federal subpoena question was item (c), but we don’t know because the agenda is intentionally misleading.
GOVERNMENT CODE 54957.1. (a) “The legislative body of any local agency shall publicly report any action taken in closed session and the vote or abstention of every member present thereon, as follows: (2) Approval given to its legal counsel to defend, or seek or refrain from seeking appellate review or relief, or to enter as an amicus curiae in any form of litigation as the result of a consultation under Section 54956.9 shall be reported in open session.”
THE MINUTES OF THE OCT. 8 meeting (the last one before the October 16 press release by County Counsel Tom Parker) are still not posted or published as of October 26. Parker’s Oct. 16 press release announcing the cave-in to the feds doesn’t even say at which meeting the Board voted to turn over the records to the feds.
A REVIEW OF THE VIDEO for the October 8 Board meeting shows that Supervisor Hamburg “reported” almost nothing out of closed session with almost no one in the room besides the Board and minimum staff. All Hamburg said was: “The Board met in closed session with its attorney and other members of staff and we gave direction to staff on several items that are on the agenda for all to see.”
SO, EVEN THOUGH HAMBURG gratuitously added the words “for all to see,” the agenda didn’t say what they discussed, the individual votes were NOT REPORTED as is legally required, nor was the nature of the direction to staff reported. It wasn’t until October 16 that Parker reluctantly released the nature of the vote in a self-serving press release.
We should know, and the Board is legally required to announce, for instance, how each supervisor voted on the decision to cooperate with federal subpoena for the County's marijuana program records, although we've learned in a roundabout way that erstwhile Fight The Feds stalwarts Hamburg and Pinches voted to cooperate and McCowen voted to resist because he said he was opposed to the release during the recent KZYX fundraiser. How Brown and Gjerde voted is not known because the Supervisors have not lawfully reported out of closed session like they're legally required to.
IS HAMBURG LOSING IT?
by Bruce McEwen
Fifth District Supervisor Dan Hamburg paid me a huge compliment in open court last Friday. I was idling in the courtroom waiting for my colleague Will Parrish’s case to be called when our illustrious supervisor came in and took a seat nearby. Then his gorgeous daughter Laura arrived and took the seat between myself and her father. Matthew Hamburg, the supervisor's troubled son, was on the day's docket. Tiffany Revelle of the Ukiah Daily Journal was there covering the story. I wasn’t about to compete with her, since her story would be in print by the weekend, long before my deadline. However, I was taking notes, since a certain Mr. Rupp, the roving whack-off artist I wrote about this week, was in court with his mother and little sister, and Rupp’s is a case I’ve been able to scoop the dailies on. My notes, then, had nothing to do with Hamburg, and so what if they had? But all of a sudden Supervisor Hamburg reached across his daughter and began to shake me very warmly by the arm — my hands being busy in note taking — and saying, “Sick, man! You are so fucking sick!” And clapping me amiably, I thought at first, on the shoulder and back. Now, “sick” is the new slang for cool, as I well know from my years on the streets with the avant garde, so I was sensible of being complimented, but it being during an open court hearing — involving the Supervisor’s son as it happened — I felt a bit overwhelmed, awkward, even, with the Hon. John Behnke looking on. I blushed and nodded acknowledgment of the praise from his eminence. But the Supe became warmer and warmer in his shaking, and louder and louder in his barely hushed praise, clapping me on the back as though I was choking on a gobbet of meat, and with so much attention being drawn to myself, I began to blush and smile with embarrassment — although I was keenly sensible of what a great and high-placed compliment I was being treated to… “You fucking suck,” he actually shouted: delivering himself of the best praise I’ve heard in months — well, at least since DA Eyster said “fuck you, McEwen, fuck you…" when I passed Mendocino County's lead law enforcement officer in the hall recently and had complimented him on his spiffy tie. But Hamburg's congratulations had escalated to assault territory. You'd have thought the judge would have said something, but this Hamburg character seems above all reprimand in Mendocino County. Laura Hamburg then pushed her father back down in his seat, flushing crimson herself. Later, after Supe Hamburg left, Laura apologized to me on her father’s behalf, and this put me at a loss: Why would she feel a need to apologize for her Pops having paid me such a high compliment?
FBI TO LAUNCH INVESTIGATION as it emerges cops shot 13-year-old boy carrying toy rifle only 10 seconds after first spotting him.
The FBI is investigating of the fatal Santa Rosa shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy after it emerged that the deputy took no more than 10 seconds to open fire on the boy last Tuesday after spotting him with an unmarked toy pellet gun. Lopez's death has inspired mass protest demonstrations in Santa Rosa, with another planned for Wednesday, and has become a national story.
A timeline released Thursday by the Santa Rosa police shows that only 10 seconds passed from the moment that the deputy and his partner called dispatch to report a suspicious person to the moment they called back to say shots had been fired.
FBI spokesman Paul Lee said he did not know why his agency decided to get involved or whether local authorities had requested its help. City police and the Sonoma County district attorney's office are also investigating.
The deputies, who have not been identified, have been placed on paid administrative leave. Assistant Sheriff Lorenzo Duenas told the Press Democrat that the deputy who shot the teen is a 24-year veteran and his partner, who did not fire his weapon, is a new hire but has more than a decade of police experience with another agency.
Santa Rosa police Lieutenant Paul Henry told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that the deputy who opened fire later told investigators he believed his life as well his partner's was in jeopardy. The deputy said the teen didn't comply with commands to drop the gun and was turning toward the deputies while raising the barrel of his plastic toy gun, an exact replica of a real weapon.
The Santa Rosa Police Department said two deputies in a squad car encountered the hoodie-wearing Lopez just after 3:14pm. Witnesses say at least one of the deputies took cover behind an open front door of the cruiser, and one yelled twice “drop the gun.” Ten seconds after their initial report to dispatch, one of the officers called in “shots have been fired.” Sixteen seconds later, the deputies were calling for medical help. Cruz was later pronounced dead at the scene.
The Sonoma County coroner said he found seven “apparent entry wounds,” two of them fatal.
Ethan Oliver, who lives across the street, told KTVU.com that the deputies continued to shoot at the boy, even after he had fallen to the ground. Oliver said he went outside after hearing two gunshots and by that time Lopez was already on the ground. “Then the cops went at it again and unloaded like six to seven shots,” he said. When asked if he meant that the deputy shot Lopez while he was on the ground, Oliver said, “Yeah. Exactly what I saw.”
Authorities haven't responded to his claims, but it raises the possibility that Lopez was still alive when he hit the ground after the first two shots were fired.
During a news conference on Wednesday, authorities displayed a real assault weapon and the pellet gun — which resembled an AK-47 with a black magazine and brown butt — to demonstrate how difficult it is to tell them apart.
Federal law requires replica guns to have an orange tip, but Lopez's toy rifle didn't have one.
Police also revealed that Lopez had his back to the deputies, so they didn't realize he was so young. He was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and shorts. They claim Lopez was about 20 to 30 feet from them when he turned with the barrel of the gun pointing toward them and they opened fire because they feared for their lives. “The deputy then fired several rounds from his service weapon at the subject,” said Santa Rosa Police Lt. Paul Henry, “striking him at least one time. The subject immediately fell to the ground.” “The deputy's mindset was that he was fearful that he was going to be shot.”
The Santa Rosa and Petaluma police departments will join with the District Attorney's office in the investigation of the shooting while the two deputies are on administrative leave. In a statement, Sheriff Steve Freitas said the shooting was a “tragedy” and that he would do everything he could to ensure the investigation was thorough and transparent. “The public expects that the investigation will be thorough and transparent. As sheriff, I will do all in my power to see that expectation is satisfied,” he said. “My hope is that we can work with the community to help prevent a similar tragedy from happening in the future.”
Some legislators have sought to impose restrictions on replica guns in an effort to make sure police don't mistake them for real ones. California law requires “imitation weapons” to look like playthings by being brightly colored or transparent, but a state senator's proposal in 2011 to extend that requirement to air guns failed after manufacturers and retailers opposed it.
Rodrigo Lopez, the boy's father, told The Press Democrat that the last time he saw his son was on Tuesday morning as he was leaving for work. “I told him what I tell him every day,” he said in Spanish. “Behave yourself.”
IT COULD HAPPEN HERE!
MGM'S NEW MOVIE — It's in theaters all over America right now! Admission is free for all who are on welfare, receive food stamps, or are on fraudulent disability. Free popcorn, candy and snacks are also furnished.
HUMBOLDT COUNTY PURSUES NEW OUTDOOR POT RULES
By Daniel Mintz
Following direction from the HumCo Board of Supervisors, Humboldt County will develop an outdoor medical marijuana cultivation ordinance that will prohibit grows on parcels that are smaller than a half-acre.
Described at the Oct. 22 HumCo supervisors meeting, the proposed ordinance will allow no more than five mature plants on parcels ranging from a half-acre to five acres. It sets a maximum 50-square-feet plant canopy area, a 20-foot setback from neighboring residences and a 600-foot setback from schools, school bus stops, parks, religious places and Native American cultural sites.
The proposal has emerged almost two years after the county adopted an indoor growing ordinance. The latest proposal seeks to set up a civil enforcement structure in response to complaints about the impacts — primarily related to aroma — of outdoor grows.
County Administrative Officer Phillip Smith-Hanes explained that the outdoor cultivation piece will actually be an amendment to the county’s zoning ordinance and will go before the Planning Commission for approval before supervisors take it up.
If approved, it will be a complaint-driven, civil code enforcement process, said Smith-Hanes.
Board Chairman Ryan Sundberg has repeatedly said that Willow Creek, which is in his district, is one of the county’s marijuana-growing hubs and residents there have been continually complaining about the dank fragrance of fresh-growing buds during the summer and early fall seasons.
One Willow Creek resident, E.B. Duggan, told supervisors that there’s a generation gap in effect. Many growers are young and some “intimidate” older residents, he continued, although he said it’s not as much of an issue for him personally due to the number of shotguns he owns.
The intimidation factor was also alluded to by Eureka resident John Chiv, who asked if complaints against neighboring growers can be filed anonymously.
Deputy County Counsel said that as with all code enforcement complaints, names will be asked for and kept on record but nothing short of a court order would bring them into daylight.
The proposal is being advanced by the board’s Medical Marijuana Subcommittee, which is made up of Smith-Hanes, Supervisor Mark Lovelace and Sundberg.
Lovelace noted the small audience turnout and said it demonstrates that the county has “gotten beyond the hysteria” over marijuana and its regulation. But Supervisor Rex Bohn said the issue is still running hot in the areas where it’s most relevant.
He said 120 people were at a meeting Sundberg organized in Willow Creek and “they were fired up.”
Bohn described the proposed ordinance framework as “a big step in making the residential areas for these people a little more bearable.”
Humboldt County has yet to start work on regulating medical marijuana distribution. Lovelace said the outdoor proposal is narrowly-focused but future work will address larger issues.
“This is the smallest level that is allowable, without a permit and without registration,” he continued. “Still ahead of us is going to be those other issues, the large ones that are so complicated by the federal position on things.”
The board unanimously voted to authorize development of an ordinance amendment based on the proposal.
Southern Humboldt is another marijuana-growing area, one whose culture differs from Willow Creek’s. But Supervisor Estelle Fennell was absent due to illness, making it the second meeting she’s missed.
In a statement read by Sundberg, she said she’s recovering and will be back at work as soon as possible.
“LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE VERY RICH. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand.” — ‘The Rich Boy,’ F. Scott Fitzgerald
THIRTEEN DEFENDANTS IN UKIAH COURT ON ABALONE CHARGES
By TIFFANY REVELLE
The courtroom on the topmost floor of the Mendocino County Superior Court's Ukiah courthouse was nearly full Friday morning with 13 defendants in an abalone poaching case, their friends and family members and the attorneys who would represent them.
Of the 13 Bay Area men, all are charged with felony conspiracy; 10 face misdemeanor charges of illegally taking abalone; five face misdemeanor charges of taking abalone for commercial purposes; and two are charged with felony perjury.
They are all accused of conspiring together, "and with another person and/or persons whose identity is unknown" to illegally harvest abalone from Mendocino County coastal waters between April 1 and Aug. 11, according to the complaint filed against them by the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office.
A Vietnamese interpreter spoke to the whole audience in Dept. H, translating Judge Richard Henderson's opening statement that he intended to go through the list and ensure everyone had an attorney.
As Henderson called each man's name, the defendant would rise and approach the opening between the gallery and the attorneys' tables before the judge's bench and stand within earshot of the interpreter. The judge would first ask if the defendant had an attorney.
Most of the men had either applied to or been in touch with the Mendocino County Public Defender's Office for representation. Public defenders were appointed, and Henderson additionally appointed some otherwise private attorneys to represent those who were still in need of a lawyer.
Without exception, each defendant pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, waived his right to a preliminary hearing within 60 days of entering a plea and filed a waiver to allow his attorney to appear on his behalf for procedural court dates, as travel was deemed an issue for the Bay Area residents.
Of the attorneys appointed and/or previously hired to represent the 13 men, about half were present in court Friday. To keep the case moving through court, those attorneys who were present stood in temporarily for those who were absent to enter the defendants' pleas and file their waivers.
Henderson set a preliminary hearing in January for all 13 defendants to give all of the attorneys time to review the evidence against their clients. The preliminary hearing is expected to take two to three days.
According to the DA's Office's complaint, groupings of four to eight of the accused men made four different trips from Oakland to Mendocino County to harvest abalone. Three men had an altered abalone certificate on an April 25 trip, and one man hid three abalone, according to the complaint.
On a May 17 trip, the complaint alleges, one man in a group of five had a detached abalone top.
One of eight men on a June 15 trip allegedly took more than the legal limit of abalone, and another man allegedly had four, according to the complaint.
Facing charges of taking abalone for commercial purposes, illegal taking of abalone and conspiracy are Khoa Dang Nguyen, Toi Van Nguyen, Duoc Van Nguyen, Dung Tri Bui and Hai Van Ha.
Khoa Dang Nguyen also faces a charge of perjury for allegedly having an altered abalone certificate.
Chinh Quan Le faces charges of illegal taking of abalone, perjury and conspiracy.
Facing charges of illegal taking of abalone and conspiracy are Andy Phan, Charlie Le, Chuyen Bui and Diep Nguyen. Nhan Le, Be Van Truong and Khoa Ngoc Nguyen each face a conspiracy charge.
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
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STUDENT DISPLAY WARNS OF ESTUARY'S DEMISE UNDER BAY DELTA CONSERVATION PLAN
by Dan Bacher
The celebration of the Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos) in Mexico and the U.S. is held every November 1 to honor the dead - and to point out, in a creative way, the current social, political and cultural struggles of the living.
It is in this tradition that students from grades four through eight at Stockton’s Kohl Open School have created a "Dia de Los Muertos" (Day of the Dead) altar (“ofrendas”) to honor the life of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta - and caution of its possible demise if the proposed diversion tunnels planned under the Bay Delta "Conservation" Plan are built and water is diverted under, rather than through the Delta. The altar is on display at the Mexican Heritage Center in Stockton.
A replica of La Llorona is placed in the center of this altar, or ofrenda, because her legend is a cautionary tale. La Llorona, in a fit of rage, turned against her children, threw them in the river, and the children disappeared down-stream, according to Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta.
When the Llorona realized what she had done, she reached out her arms to her children, but it was too late -- the children were gone. La Llorona walks up and down the banks of the river crying, “Where are my children?” .
"We must heed the warnings and not become the Llorona," said Barrigan-Parrilla. "We cannot throw the fresh water of the rivers away from the Delta. If we do, the Delta will become a salty cesspool and we will not be able to reach out and restore the damage we have done. We will be walking down the salty banks of the rivers looking for the native birds, fish, plants, and crops, crying, 'Where is the Delta?'"
Barrigan-Parrilla noted that the ofrenda has traditional elements, but the elements relate to the Delta:
"The Llorona is created out of flowerpots, which represent over a half million acres of rich fertile soils in the Delta used for growing a wide range of vegetables, grains, and fruit crops," she said. "Instead of the traditional Marigolds, there are flowerpots filled with crops that are grown in the Delta and the flowerpots are painted with skulls. Also, there are baskets filled with fruits grown in the Delta to represent Earth."
"The tablecloth is blue (representing the water) with fish prints. The Delta’s longfin smelt, salmon, and striped bass will be adversely affected by reduced freshwater flows and saltwater intrusion, so, the prints appear to be fading away," Barrigan-Parrilla noted.
There are two “Retablos” (the tri-folds) which depict the animals and vegetation which will be adversely affected by the diversion tunnels.
Ice Candles (fire) with holes symbolize the hollow space the tunnels will leave in the Delta estuary.
On the river (table cloth) there are wire skeletons portraying recreational activities that occur in the Delta such as fishing, skiing, and boating.
Typically, the salt on the ofrenda represents life. "However, in this case, the salt represents the intrusion of seawater into the Delta, which will eventually cause the death of the Delta," said Barrigan-Parrilla.
The “papel picado” (perforated paper) represents the wind and is attached to the hem of the tablecloth. "We used black, purple, and white. Black represents death, purple stands for grief, and white symbolizes the hope that the tunnels will not be built and that the Delta estuary will be saved," she stated.
"The giant fish is pleading for its life asking us to Save the Delta -- Stop the Tunnels!" she concluded.
In my opinion, this "Dia de Los Muertos" display is one of the most creative ways yet used to depict what will happen to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta if Governor Jerry Brown's peripheral tunnels are constructed. Kudos to the students at Stockton's Kohl Open School and Restore the Delta for coming up with this superb display!
For more information, go to: http://www.restorethedelta.org
In other Delta news, state officials announced that the release of BDCP environmental documents for public reviews, originally scheduled for mid-November, will be delayed until mid-December.
The recent federal government shutdown prevented the federal agencies that need to review the plan’s environmental documents from doing so.
“When you’re not making progress because the federal government has shut down, it adds to the length of time it takes to get the plan to the various milestones and that costs money,” Nancy Vogel with the California Department of Water Resources told Capital Public Radio. (http://www.capradio.org/articles/2013/10/23/federal-shutdown-delays-release-of-bay-delta-conservation-plan/)
The construction of Governor Jerry Brown's peripheral tunnels would hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt and green sturgeon, as well as imperil salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers. It will take vast quantities of fertile Delta farmland out of agricultural production, under the guise of "habitat restoration," to facilitate the diversion of massive quantities of water to irrigate corporate mega-farms on toxic, drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.
Photo: Governor Jerry Brown drinks water and breathes air just like the rest of us, but his horrible environmental policies sabotage laws protecting the water and air. Photo by Dan Bacher.