Mendocino County Today: Saturday, Feb 20, 2016
by AVA News Service, February 20, 2016
WHEN THE GOOD STRAY from the path of righteousness…
Sgt. Rich (Richard) Spurling, an 18-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office, enjoys an enviable work record at the County Jail, but less of a sterling reputation away from work.
The Spurlings (Facebook photo)
JUST OVER TWO WEEKS AGO, the Sgt. was the author of wild events at the Ukiah bowling alley parking lot where, stumbling drunk, he got into an argument with his wife, Brandy, a dispatcher with the Sheriff's Department. The dispute between Spurling and his wife devolved into a confused melee involving bystanders, during which Spurling took at least one punch to the head, Mrs. Spurling was roughed up and a bystander is said to have sustained minor injuries. Most disturbing, Spurling's loaded gun made its way out of Spurling's truck, but no one reported it in Spurling's possession or said that Spurling was brandishing it. The gun somehow wound up on the ground of the bowing alley's parking lot where all this occurred. One witness said Mrs. Spurling disarmed her husband, but that is unconfirmed.
DEPUTY Orell Massey and several other cops were soon on-scene. Massey placed Spurling, belligerent and challenging deputies to fight, under arrest. At the Jail, Spurling continued to erupt but calmed down long enough to be photographed, booked and fingerprinted as he was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence.
STILL FUMING, SPURLING was driven home in a police van by an on-duty deputy after he posted bail. It was assumed Spurling would call it a night. But he grabbed more beer, climbed into his big red Ford truck, and sped away southbound on Redemeyer Road in Ukiah.
BY NOW it was about three in the morning, and Spurling was off careening around the Ukiah Valley, drunk, angry. No alarm, no all points bulletin was issued. People who know him claim this episode was the third like it that they know of; they say Spurling is an alcoholic who drives drunk "all the time."
REACHED FRIDAY MORNING, Sheriff Allman said he was well aware of the incident. Allman said the Sheriff's Department is "prohibited by law” — the Peace Officer's Bill of Rights — from releasing photographs of law enforcement officers. (Spurling's picture was briefly in the Booking Log, but soon removed). Allman said he's requested booking photo policy from the State Attorney General's Office but has not received clarification. In any case, that's the reason Spurling's photo did not appear in this newspaper's catch of the day. The Sheriff said a report on the Spurling affair has been submitted to the DA's Office. Sheriff Allman said also that an Internal Affairs Investigation was initiated last week on this incident.
SGT. SPURLING has been put on administrative leave. He will be required to go to rehab, won't be allowed on jail premises until his case is resolved. Two years short of pension eligibiity, Spurling could be fired. But given his years of otherwise unblemished service, Spurling is more likely to be demoted and ordered to clean up or be fired. It's up to DA Eyster to file charges, but people close to the Spurlings say Mrs. Spurling is unlikely to testify against her husband.
AFTER TWO VERY WET MONTHS, February opened with two very dry weeks. Over 18 days, January 30 through February 16, Yorkville reported a grand total of 2/10 of an inch. Since then, the past three days delivered about a half inch each, which upped February's total to 1.64 inches (thus far). The forecast now switches back to warm and dry. If things don't get Biblical soon, February 2016 is going to be much drier than normal. Yorkville's season total (now beginning in October instead of July) currently stands at 36.6 inches. Last year's total was 41.72 inches.
COUNTY CONCLUDES ANIMAL SHELTER REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL PROCESS
On February 17, 2015, the Board of Supervisors directed staff to explore alternative arrangements for the County’s Animal Care Services and management, including possible options for outsourcing. Pursuant to Board direction, on June 29, 2015, the County issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to provide Animal Care Services and Shelter Management. Proposals were due August 4, 2015, and have been under review since that time. During the January 5, 2016, Board of Supervisors meeting, the status of the Animal Shelter was directed to be the first order of business for the Board’s Health and Human Services (HHS) Standing Committee meeting on February 8, 2016.
During their February meeting, the HHS Standing Committee received an update from staff regarding the current status of the shelter and an overview of the RFP process to date. The Committee recommended that the RFP process be concluded, that staff consider alternative means for improving shelter operations, and that staff identify and implement improved programs, practices, and protocols. The HHS Committee reported this information to the Board of Supervisors during their February 9, 2016, meeting, at which time, the Chief Executive Officer/Purchasing Agent concurred and recommended that the current competitive process be concluded. Only one party submitted a proposal, and they have been notified of this decision in writing. The County will release to the public the proposal received in response to the RFP.
For more information, please contact the Mendocino County Executive Office at (707) 463-4441.
Carmel J. Angelo, Mendocino County Chief Executive Officer
WHAT HAPPENED TO RICH AT HOSPITALITY HOUSE
by Richard Mack
I went to the Hospitality House Sept. 3 2013 and received a bed and was told to check in at the Hospitality Center on Franklin St. in the alley to sign up for “services” with in five days and to go to the clinic for a TB test (which I did).
I went to the Hospitality Center to sign up for “services.”
As they were just opening and I believe people need assistance sometimes (you too are eligible) I started ‘being of assistance’ as in supporting their programs, sharing Green and Sober Inc. morning check in, I ran the emergency winter shelter December 2013 to April 2014, volunteered for various “public service” activities.
I moved out of the house February 2014 to re-start Green and Sober Inc.
Having a lot of troubles I still needed services and have been denied housing because I will not lie about Cannabis use as my only medication, I still tried to turn to the Hospitality Center for assistance and to complain about the fact they where allowing other people to lie and cheat making what I am doing look wrong when in fact they are the ones who are wrong.
A few of us who openly use Cannabis as a medication started having Green and Sober meetings (peer to peer support) at Dragonfly wellness center.
At our first meeting a client of the Hospitality Center thought it would be funny to go to Dragonfly Wellness Center to get his Cannabis and wait for the meeting to end to rub my nose in the fact that he is allowed to use Cannabis and he is housed, “How's that honesty working for you”?
As this became an on going pattern, I reported this behavior to the Hospitality Center staff including Anna Shaw and asked them to tell their client not to stalk and harass me at the Cannabis club.
They told me they can't tell their clients what to do, as a matter of fact they leave what they believe clients can do up to the clients.
As what I see as a slap in the face, this client that I have been making formal complaints about was used as a hospitality center success story on the front page of the Advocate News, (July 24 2014).
Finally after talking with a local police officer about what was going on, the harassment stopped.
I started re-filing formal complaints with patients rights which at first seemed to be disregarded.
When my formal complaints where finally responded to I was blown away at their response which stated:
“Dear Mr. Mack,
“This letter is to follow-up on the grievance you submitted on June 15, and 17, 2015, regarding your report that you were denied services and your concerns about your medication. Mendocino County Mental Health Improvement did investigate your grievance.
“Per conversations with the Patients Rights Advocate and Connie Drago, compliance manager from Ortner Management Group (OMG), who spoke with your case manager at MCHC as well as yourself, we learned more about your concerns. Your case manager corroborated your statements, and you won't compromise your ethics. You are not being denied services. Your case manager, ***** ******, will continue to work with you on overcoming your housing barriers. OMG and Mendocino County will also continue to support you in your efforts.”
This letter was dated June 25th 2015 and I still have the things to deal with that I have been asking for help on for over 2 years.
I even put in an application for employment on 2 occasions which must get buried also.
So I just want to let the people and agencies that refuse to help me know that since I can not get help to get housing from Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center, Patients Rights, Disability Rights, ACLU, local Board of Supervisors, Fort Bragg, Ca. City council, various attorneys and the ones I do not want to mention due to fear of retaliation.
It seems I am being forced to lie & cheat (as many do), quit Cannabis (risk seizures) or get back on prescription medication to get housing.
All of this is completely wrong!, Cannabis is my ONLY medication.
This is what I have been sending and saying to the various agencies.
I am missing part of my frontal lobe and was on many prescription drugs (2 being anti-seizure).
I have been able to successfully replace ALL of the prescription drugs with Cannabis (no seizures).
Using Cannabis and not prescription medication has kept me locked out of many mental health services such as housing (MendocinoCoastHospitalityCenter).
In order to receive the most important component of homeless services, housing, I would have to lie & cheat, quit Cannabis (risk seizures) or get back on prescription medications, (seems wrong to me).
This is a blatant violation of my civil rights!
All of this is completely hypocritical considering the Department of Health and Human Services holds the patent on Cannabinoids (6630507).
I am really disturbed by all of this.
The mental health system on the coast has given me more mental health issues then I have ever had.
Richard E. Mack, Fort Bragg
KATY TAHJA, the AVA’s ace history writer, wonders if the writer of the unsigned fan letter she received care/of Gallery Bookshop would sit still for an interview. The mystery man is a resident of Willits, a train lover, a very senior citizen who mentions seeing Franklin D. Roosevelt on a train in his childhood. Katy, natch, would love to interview the man and hopes he will contact her at Gallery Bookshop, Katy's work place in Mendocino.
ON A RECENT TOUR of Anderson Valley flora, Keith Bramstedt, noted: "Those oak trees I didn't recognize that you referred to as ‘scrub oaks’ are Oregon oaks or Oregon white oaks. I looked it up in an Oaks of California book I have. The moss hanging from the branches and trunks is characteristic of this species. Back in November when I was driving through the Anderson Valley I noticed what I think were black oaks, another deciduous oak we rarely see in Marin. I saw them more towards the Cloverdale end of Anderson Valley on 128. Large yellow leaves in Fall."
CATCH OF THE DAY, February 17, 2016
MARC CORSON, Fort Bragg. Under influence, probation revocation.
EMILLANO DECONTRERAS, Ukiah. Domestic assault.
Gama, Garcia, Golyer
MICHAEL GAMA, Nice/Ukiah. Probation revocation.
DIEGO GARCIA, Ukiah. Unspecified misdemeanor, failure to appear.
PAUL GOLYER, Ukiah. Trespassing, paraphernalia, probation revocation.
Iversen, Lopes, Mrtinez, Paz
KURT IVERSEN, Point Arena. Drunk in public, probation revocation.
ANTHONY LOPES SR., Willits. Drunk in public.
ISMAEL MARTINEZ, Fort Bragg. Probation violation.
RAFAEL PAZ, Willits. Meth possession for sale, county parole violation.
Piceno, Rose, Whipple
MARCIANO PICENO, Ukiah. Ex-felon with firearm, possession of firearm with prior felony, prohibited person with ammo, possession of meth, under influence, failure to appear.
BENAY ROSE, Lakeport/Redwood Valley. Pot possession for sale.
LEONARD WHIPPLE, Covelo. Community Supervision violation.
CATCH OF THE DAY, February 18, 2016
Abonce-Guzman, Arsenault, Burleigh
ADOLFO ABONCE-GUZMAN, Willits. Forge or alter vehicle registration.
MICHELLE ARSENAULT, Redwood Valley. Pot possession for sale.
MARK BURLEIGH, Ukiah. Burglary from motor vehicle, receiving stolen property, failure to appear, probation revocation.
Corson, Couthren, McAndrews
MARC CORSON, Fort Bragg. Under influence, probation revocation.
STEVE COUTHREN, Ukiah. Parole violation.
MORGAN MCANDREWS, Redwood Valley. Pot possession for sale, honey oil extraction, failure to appear, offenses while on bail, probation revocaiton.
Price, Ridenour, Still, Zamora-Acosta
ANNET PRICE, Fort Bragg. Resisting.
DERRICK RIDENOUR, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
ANTHONY STILL, Redwood Valley. Pot possession for sale, fugitive from justice, false impersonation of another.
LUIS ZAMORA-ACOSTA, Ukiah. Suspended license, failure to appear.
CATCH OF THE DAY, February 19, 2016
Butler, Commander, Ewing
SHERRIE BUTLER, Ukiah. Petty theft.
NICHOLAS COMMANDER, Hopland. Trespassing, false ID, probation revocation.
JESSICA EWING, Ukiah. Trespassing.
Hobbs, Honer, Jones, MacDonald
ARTHUR HOBBS IV, Boonville. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
RICHARD HONER, Ukiah. Suspended license.
MICHAEL JONES, Ukiah. Drunk in public, parole violation.
MARINA MACDONALD, Willits. Probation revocation.
Murguia, Ruelle, Shaffer, Shields
DEBORAH MURGUIA, Ukiah. DUI.
WAYNE RUELLE, Calpella. Battery, criminal threats, resisting.
JEFFREY SHAFFER, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
JIMMY SHIELDS, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
THE GUARDIAN’S Top 10 books about justice and redemption:
LIVING A MILE EAST of Comptche on the Albion River, Katy Tahja reports her family saw BIG steelhead migrating upstream recently. Never in 40 years have they actually seen fish migrating on this stretch of river. They applauded the fish from the river bank and wished them a successful journey and a happy spawning.
IF TRUMP WINS…
A Reader Writes: You might want to spread the (somewhat amusing) "news" about this option!
HARPER LEE, To Kill a Mockingbird author, dies aged 89
Writer whose 1961 novel became a defining text of 20th-century literature and of racial troubles in the American south has died in Monroeville, Alabama.
by Ed Pilkington & Matthew Teague
Harper Lee, whose 1961 novel To Kill a Mockingbird became a national institution and the defining text on the racial troubles of the American deep south, has died at the age of 89.
Lee, or Nelle as she was known to those close to her, had lived for several years in a nursing home less than a mile from the house in which she had grown up in Monroeville, Alabama – the setting for the fictional Maycomb of her famous book. The town’s mayor, Mike Kennedy, confirmed the author’s death.
Until last year, Lee had been something of a one-book literary wonder. To Kill a Mockingbird, her 1961 epic narrative about small-town lawyer Atticus Finch’s battle to save the life of a black resident threatened by a racist mob, sold more than 40 million copies around the world and earned her a Pulitzer prize. George Bush awarded her the presidential medal of freedom in 2007.
But from the moment Mockingbird was published to almost instant success the author consistently avoided public attention and insisted that she had no intention of releasing further works. That self-imposed purdah ended abruptly when, amid considerable controversy, it was revealed a year ago that a second novel had been discovered which was published as Go Set a Watchman in July 2015.
The house where Lee lived for years with her sister Alice sat quiet and empty on Friday. The inside of the house appeared unchanged from when she lived there – antique furniture was stacked with books, audio cassettes and gift baskets.
Her neighbor for 40 years, Sue Sellers, said Lee would have appreciated the quiet. “She was such a private person,” she said. “All she wanted was privacy, but she didn’t get much. There always somebody following her around.”
In recent years Lee’s health had declined. Seller said the last time she spent any real time with Lee they went to breakfast together. “The whole way home she drove her big car in the turn lane,” she said. “She couldn’t see. I was scared to death.”
The last time she saw Lee was a few months ago at the Meadows nursing home. Sellers brought flowers. “She just hollered out: ‘I can’t see and I can’t hear!’” Sellers said. “So I just told her goodbye.”
Lee was born in Monroeville in 1926 and grew up under the stresses of segregation. As a child she shared summers with another aspiring writer, Truman Capote, who annually came to stay in the house next door to hers and who later invited her to accompany him to Holcomb, Kansas, to help him research his groundbreaking 1966 crime book In Cold Blood.
Capote informed the figure of the young boy Dill in Mockingbird, with his friend the first-person narrator Scout clearly modelled on the childhood Lee herself.
Lee was the youngest child of lawyer Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Finch Lee. Her father acted as the template for Atticus Finch whose resolute courtroom dignity as he struggles to represent a black man, Tom Robinson, accused of raping a white woman provides the novel’s ethical backbone.
Last year’s publication of Go Set a Watchman obliged bewildered fans of the novel to reappraise the character of Finch. In that novel, which was in fact the first draft of Mockingbird that had been rejected by her publisher, Finch was portrayed as having been a supporter of the South’s Jim Crow laws, saying at one point: “Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters?”
Within minutes of the announcement of the novelist’s death, encomiums began to flow. Her literary agent Andrew Nurnberg said in a statement: “We have lost a great writer, a great friend and a beacon of integrity.”
He added: “Knowing Nelle these past few years has been not just an utter delight but an extraordinary privilege. When I saw her just six weeks ago, she was full of life, her mind and mischievous wit as sharp as ever. She was quoting Thomas More and setting me straight on Tudor history.”
Michael Morrison, her publisher at HarperCollins US, said: “The world knows Harper Lee was a brilliant writer but what many don’t know is that she was an extraordinary woman of great joyfulness, humility and kindness. She lived her life the way she wanted to – in private – surrounded by books and the people who loved her.”
In Lee’s home state of Alabama, an epicenter of the violent upheavals over civil rights that immediately preceded the publication of Mockingbird, literary experts reflected on the power of the novel to shift the ingrained assumptions of white Alabamans. Jacqueline Trimble, president of the Alabama Writers’ Forum that bequeaths the annual Harper Lee award for literary excellence, said that the book had a profound effect on white residents of the state.
“She was able to take the politics of the civil rights era and make them human. She showed people that this was about their neighbors, their friends, someone they knew, not just about the issues,” Trimble said.
Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, tweeted a quote from Mockingbird: “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”
(Courtesy, the London Guardian.)
IN AN OP-ED FOR The Washington Post, Charles Koch (of the Koch brothers) suprisingly agrees with Bernie Sanders on one particular issue of his campaign. “He believes that we have a two-tiered society that increasingly dooms millions of our fellow citizens to lives of poverty and hopelessness,” Koch writes. “He thinks many corporations seek and benefit from corporate welfare while ordinary citizens are denied opportunities and a level playing field. I agree with him.”
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
For 60 years Green cornucopianism has been saying: “Live simply that others may simply live.” That has prepared them for if/when there is a collapse. My first introduction was through Scott Nearing’s book “Living the Good Life: How to Live Simply and Sanely in a Troubled World” in 1954. As a result many moved off the grid, and are far from population centers. Green cornucopians have already contracted, decentralized, developed a local community for support… and installed renewables … with a lifestyle more reminiscent of 1870 than 2015, i.e., an improvement in the quality of life. There is no more “driving your Chevrolet to see the USA”…. However, renewables play an important role in making life a bit more comfortable than 1870. More and more countries are moving to renewables. China was the biggest renewables market in the world with 433 gigawatts of generating capacity at the end of 2014. Not to “provide a middle class America lifestyle” … it just makes sense to become less dependent on fossil fuels. Some countries will find it easier to be able to subsist post-collapse because they have embraced renewables for decades now.
ELK’S 29TH ANNUAL RUMMAGE SALE
The Greenwood Civic Club invites you to take part in the 29th Annual Elk Rummage Sale to be held Saturday and Sunday, April 2nd and 3rd from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Greenwood Community Center in downtown Elk. Discover antiques, collectibles, clothes, books, toys, housewares, furniture, tools, and more at bargain prices. Join the “Great Race” Sunday afternoon - all you can stuff in a bag for $3.00. While shopping, feast on baked goods, drinks and home-made tempting lunch items. Donations in good condition are welcome before the sale and may be dropped off at the Greenwood Community Center in Elk March 30th and 31st between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. For information or pickup assistance, call Rae at 877-3224 or visit www.elkweb.org <http://www.elkweb.org/>. The Greenwood Civic Club is a non-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible. Proceeds from the annual event benefit community projects, the summer children’s program and student scholarships.
FRIDAY NIGHT’S Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show
In addition to the usual shenanigans, Stuart Cohen might stop by and play a few of his new songs. I hope he does. I haven't heard back from Bob Young about my query, so I guess the phone service is still not right at the studio (it's been wonky for awhile, though the internet service is working fine, thank Thor). So calling in is out for tonight unless I get there and it's working, in which case I'll just say so then.
WHERE SCALIA DIED & HOW HE GOT THERE
Why Justice Scalia Was Staying for Free at a Texas Resort
by Mark Berman & Jerry Markon
Justice Antonin Scalia's sudden death over the weekend at a West Texas ranch raised questions about the nature of his travel, who paid for the trip and whether justices are subject to the same disclosure guidelines as other judges or federal officials.
Scalia was at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort tucked away in the Big Bend region of Texas about 30 miles from the border with Mexico.
The ranch is 30,000-acre getaway that is home to John B. Poindexter, according to the website of J.B. Poindexter & Co. It is a remote location that has reportedly attracted the likes of Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall and Bruce Willis. When Tommy Lee Jones directed a movie more than a decade ago, he filmed several scenes at the ranch, according to the Houston Chronicle.
All of which raises the question: Who pays for a Supreme Court justice to make this kind of trip?
Not Scalia, it turns out. Poindexter told The Washington Post that Scalia was not charged for his stay, something he described as a policy for all guests at the ranch.
“I did not pay for the Justice's trip to Cibolo Creek Ranch,” Poindexter wrote in a brief email Tuesday. “He was an invited guest, along with a friend, just like 35 others.”
Poindexter added: “The Justice was treated no differently by me, as no one was charged for activities, room and board, beverages, etc. That is a 22-year policy.”
However, Poindexter said he did not pay for Scalia's charter flight to Texas.
A person familiar with the ranch's operations said Poindexter hosts such events two or three times a year.
Poindexter, who would not identify Scalia's friend, is a Texas native and decorated Vietnam veteran who owns Houston-based J.B. Poindexter & Co., a manufacturing firm.
The company has seven subsidiaries, with combined annual revenue of nearly $1 billion, according to information on its website. Among the items it manufacturers are delivery vans for UPS and FedEx and machine components for limousines and hearses. The company has 5,000 employees, the site said.
One of Poindexter's companies was involved in a case that made it to the high court. Last year, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case involving an age discrimination lawsuit filed against one of these companies, court records show.
The nature of Poindexter's relationship with Scalia remained unclear Tuesday, one of several lingering questions about his visit. It was not known whether Scalia had paid for his own ticket to fly to the ranch or if someone else picked up the tab, just as it was not immediately clear if Scalia had visited before.
It is also still not known who else was at the Texas ranch for the weekend, and unless that is revealed, there could be concerns about who could have tried to raise an issue around Scalia, said Stephen Gillers, who teaches legal and judicial ethics at the New York University School of Law. He compared it to unease that arises when judges and officials from major companies are invited to seminars or educational events that bring them together for periods of time.
“People worry at those kinds of things; there's a creation of access on the part of people with an interest in the courts, and that is unfair,” Gillers said Tuesday.
How do justices disclose their gifts and investments? Much the same way other federal judges do: by filing reports outlining their outside income, gifts and times they are reimbursed for things.
The 1978 Ethics in Government Act, passed in the wake of the Watergate scandal, states that all federal judges — up to and including the chief justice and the associate justices — are required to report certain gifts. It also requires them to identify and describe when someone who is not a relative gives them “transportation, lodging, food, or entertainment” worth a certain amount.
A review of Scalia’s recent financial disclosure reports posted online by OpenSecrets.org shows that, like his colleagues, he regularly filed for unspecified reimbursements from universities, legal societies and other organizations like the conservative group the Federalist Society after making trips for lectures and speeches. Scalia was among the court’s most active travelers. However, these disclosure forms offer scant details about who else attends events with the justices.
Judges must report reimbursements related to travel totaling $335 or more, according to filing instructions posted by the group Judicial Watch.
And judges are not allowed to accept anything of value from a person who has a case in their court, the document notes.
These instructions include an exemption for “food, lodging or entertainment received as a personal hospitality,” which includes a stay at a property owned by a person. As a result, it is unclear if Scalia’s stay would have ultimately been reported, said Gillers. (Travel, however, is not exempt.)
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. devoted part of his 2011 report on the state of the federal judiciary to the topic of disclosures. He also made sure to note that it was not entirely clear, in the court¹s eyes, whether Congress could even extend such disclosure requirements to the justices.
“The Court has never addressed whether Congress may impose those requirements on the Supreme Court,” he wrote. “The Justices nevertheless comply with those provisions.”
Are there other ethical questions regarding justices?
The biggest ethical questions involve when justices should recuse themselves from cases, says Gillers.
“Is [the justice] the final arbiter of whether or not he has to recuse himself? And the answer is yes,” he said. “Every other federal judge below the Supreme Court, every other federal judge's decision about whether or not he should be recused is potentially subject to the review of a higher judge or other judges on his court. But no one reviews the decision of a justice.”
He pointed to perhaps the most famous case involving a justice and recusal, which involved Scalia himself. Scalia joined then-Vice President Richard B. Cheney on a hunting trip while Cheney was the subject of a lawsuit over his energy task force, and in response to calls that he sit out the case, Scalia issued a highly unusual 21-page argument explaining why he refused to do so.
There are also calls for recusal stemming from things justices did before they joined the bench. Justice Elena Kagan, who served as the Obama administration's solicitor general before her appointment, dismissed suggestions to recuse herself from decisions on health-care reform. Kagan had said that while in the administration she was not involved in preparations for legal challenges the act would face.
For his part, Roberts has defended the court's policy allowing justices to decide for themselves if they should step away from certain cases, defending the court's members as capable of making this decision themselves.
In his 2011 report, Roberts noted that while lower courts can substitute for one another, there is only one U.S. Supreme Court, “and if a Justice withdraws from a case, the Court must sit without its full membership.” The justices have “an obligation to the Court” before making the decision on recusal, he wrote.
Roberts issued his report at the end of a year in which more than 100 law professors nationwide asked Congress to give the Supreme Court an ethical code of conduct after it emerged that Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas had attended private political meetings sponsored by billionaire conservative donors David and Charles Koch. That same year, Kagan was called on to recuse herself from hearing challenges to health-care reform, and a watchdog group said Thomas had failed to report his wife's income from a conservative think tank before he amended his financial forms.
While Roberts did not specifically mention those issues, he said it would not be wise for justices to review the recusal decisions made by their peers. He said that “it would create an undesirable situation” enabling justices to play a role in determining which others get to weigh in on cases.
“I have complete confidence in the capability of my colleagues to determine when recusal is warranted,” he wrote. “They are jurists of exceptional integrity and experience whose character and fitness have been examined through a rigorous appointment and confirmation process.”
* * *
February 19-21, 2016 -- Forget the eulogies of Scalia; Why was he on a free trip to a swanky resort?
By Wayne Madson, publication date: Feb 19, 2016 <http://www.waynemadsenreport.com/articles/20160219/print?printview=pdf>
Senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia died from as yet unknown reasons while on an all-expenses paid boondoggle to a five-star resort ranch in the middle of nowhere in extreme west Texas. Scalia's host, John B. Poindexter, the billionaire owner of J. B. Poindexter & Co. Inc. of Houston had an age discrimination case before the Supreme Court last year. Scalia was one of the judges who found in favor of Poindexter by refusing to hear the age discrimination case (Hinga, James V. Mic Group) and it appears that Scalia's "quail hunting" trip to Poindexter's Cibolo Creek Ranch was a payback for the Supreme Court's legal largesse. Poindexter admitted the free trip was a "gift" to Scalia.
Poindexter claims traditionally he does not charge his VIP guests for their stay at a number of the getaways Scalia attended. However, he was adamant that he did not pay for Scalia's air travel to the Cibolo Creek airport on a private executive jet. However, Cibolo Creek Airport is owned by Southwestern Holdings, Inc. of Houston, which is owned by Poindexter and other reports indicated that Scalia's air travel was also provided gratis by Poindexter.
What secret government-private business deals have been concluded at Cibolo Creek Ranch?
The Cibolo airport has been served by Cibolo Air's fleet of two propeller-driven King Air 65-C90s (tail numbers N80TB and N690JP). Cibolo Air is also owned by Poindexter. The airport once had a Hughes TH-55 (N2090L) helicopter present but it was de-registered in 2013 with no information available about its final disposition in Oklahoma.
Although there are a number of questions raised by Scalia's death and the lack of an autopsy and the circuitous over-the-road trip his body took from Cibolo Creek to El Paso, all of which will be addressed in an in-depth Wayne Madsen Report report, the public has a right to know about with whom Scalia was vacationing with on the Presidents' Day/Valentine's Day long weekend. The 36 guests, including Scalia, were all staying at the ranch free of charge. Unlike elected politicians who are bought-and-paid-for by special interests, judges, especially life-serving Supreme Court justices, not only interpret existing law but often make decisions that become rooted in case law. And those decisions can affect every man, woman, and child in the United States.
At the very least, Scalia's apparent conflict-of-interest in accepting a free trip from a Supreme Court litigant demands a federal law enforcement investigation. Perhaps it was Scalia's possible violation of ethics and the law that created the kerfuffle surrounding the lid being placed on details concerning his sudden death.
(Courtesy, the Washington Post)