DID HE? The Chron headline Thursday morning read, “25-to-life upheld for hiring hit man.” The story went on to describe how Westport's Kenny Rogers has lost his appeal to overturn his conviction for allegedly hiring an ex-con named Richard Peacock to kill another Westport man named Alan Simon. Simon and Rogers had clashed over management of the Westport water system. In 2004, Simon engineered Rogers' recall from Rogers position as chairman of the Water Board and Simon became chairman. In June of 2005, Peacock shot up the front door of Simon's Westport home. Simon said he was grazed by one of the 9 shots fired. The night of the shooting, Peacock, hurtling eastbound along the lightly traveled Branscomb Road, tossed the gun he'd apparently used to shoot up Simon's door just as a westbound CHP officer drove past hustling to Westport at the “shots fired” call. The gun was eventually (and nebulously) linked to Rogers. The Prosecution claimed that Rogers had paid Peacock, an employee of Rogers' auto detailing business in Sacramento, several pounds of marijuana to knock off Simon. (Richard Peacock was convicted in 2006 of attempting to kill Simon and was sentenced to 71 years in prison.)
DA LINOTT and prosecutor Tim Stoen, first offered Rogers a deal that would have permitted Rogers to plead out to being an accessory to the shooting of Simon's front door, but Judge Ron Brown rejected the plea offer because Brown said he'd been informed by Rogers' probation officer that Rogers had agreed to the lesser plea simply to get the matter behind him. That offer, which would have been a few months in the County Jail plus probation, indicated that the DA felt there wasn't a strong case against Rogers, but Brown propelled the matter forward as an attempted murder.
AN ATTEMPTED murder would have been for Peacock to knock on Simon's door and shoot Simon when he opened it. How shooting at the front door of a home can be construed as an attempted murder beats me. If anything, it sounds like the idea was to scare Simon out of town, not kill him.
MENDO COUNTY Probation also claimed that lots of Westport residents, unnamed, were afraid of Rogers. Rogers rejected appeal was based on Judge Brown's ruling, and the appellate court found that Brown's decision was “within his authority.” The appeals court also found that Rogers had been competently represented, which he clearly had not been.
WHEN THE ROGERS matter tottered into court — and here we go purely subjective — the jury heard horror stories about Rogers alleged bigotry, his alleged unpopularity in town and, of course the jury saw Peacock, a menacing figure who undoubtedly put the fear into them. I think the jury found Rogers guilty simply on the basis of his association with Peacock and Peacock's equally menacing brother, Michael, and Rogers’ alleged ethnic hostilities. There was no hard evidence linking Rogers to the crime, and Richard Peacock, an old fashioned tough guy, never said a word about Rogers.
IF THE MARIJUANA candidates for California’s Second Congressional District — Andy Caffrey, Bill Courtney and John Lewallen — hadn't been in the Northcoast race for Congress, Norman Solomon would have had five percent more of the vote, putting Solomon in the November runoff with Huffman. That might have been the most interesting race in the country because it would have been a showdown between what the Democrats should be (Solomon) and what the Democrats are (Huffman). We'll get Huffman, meaning we get a Thompson clone and another automatic vote for Israeli (and our) racism and imperialism, no voice for single payer, ongoing bailouts for the thieves running the economy, no breaks at all for young people, and on and on. Maybe Solomon should consider running as a write-in (although there’s still a mathematical chance that late/absentee voters will bump him into the runoff).
SORRY TO SEE Huffman endorsed by outgoing Lynn Woolsey but not surprised. She was good on some issues but in the crunch tended to vote for the bad.
“I, PAUL ANDERSEN, am the mastermind…” begins a widely distributed letter from the mastermind himself. This guy was once a Ukiah City Councilman where he was widely considered to be a man with an insanely high regard for himself unshared by anyone outside his invincibly smug self. Of course a man would have to be at least half-cracked to refer to himself un-ironically as a “mastermind” then brag to Northcoast media that he was the “mastermind” behind the ho-hum news that Stacey Lawson was (1) a carpetbagger (2) rich (3) vacuous (4) hadn't voted much (5) got her millions out of a failing company while the getting was good.
SO? MORE THAN HALF of eligible Americans don't vote, and it's not as if the dreary line-ups of candidates and their even drearier “ideas” inspire us to rush to the polls. Of course one would expect a candidate for Congress to have taken at least a superficial interest in the rigged process, but Lawson was never a factor in this election. Also, getting her money out before a collapse indicates that the kid is not the total feeb she appears to be. If it were between Lawson and Andersen for the Ukiah City Counsel, I'd go for Lawson.
A READER WRITES: “Last weekend I was fortunate to see Brothers on the Line at the Mendocino Film Festival; fortunate because it was only shown once and it was sold out, but I managed to get a ticket and fortunate also because I got to see one of the most thought provoking movies I have been too in a long time. Since it won the Audience Choice Award at the festival, it will be shown one more time, at 11 a.m. this Saturday, June 9, at the Coast Theater in Fort Bragg. I highly recommend that you make every effort see it. Here is a summary about the film taken from several articles I read about it: Brothers On The Line, a documentary feature by Sasha Reuther, explores the legacy of the Reuther brothers, pioneering labor organizers whose leadership of the United Auto Workers (UAW) transformed the social, economic, and political landscape of a nation. The film takes an in-depth look at a controversial time in our history. It not only weaves a striking personal narrative of one family's commitment, but provides timely commentary on issues that resonate far beyond their era (pensions, health care, worker rights) the rise and fall of the Big 3 automakers, and much more. It appeals to a wide range of age groups, shedding new light and personal perspective on historical events for the generation who lived during these times, and also serves to educate younger generations who know very little about the labor movement and the important strides made by its champions. Comprised of never-before-seen footage from the UAW archive, unique first-hand accounts, and stirring narration by Martin Sheen, it not only weaves a striking personal narrative of one family's commitment but, provides timely commentary on issues that resonate far beyond their era, into current debates over workers rights, trade agreements, and national healthcare. One of the goals of the film is to stimulate a multi-generational debate, with the potential to motivate communities to implement the lessons learned from past struggles in current social and economic challenges. Brothers On The Line opens in 1930s Detroit, as a new breed of industrial revolution rises from the colossal factories of the Motor City. Taking a stand against oppressive working conditions, Walter, Roy, and Victor Reuther overcome intimidation and violence to help organize “sit down” strikes, the most successful occurring at the General Motors facilities in Flint. Their bold rhetoric challenges the mighty automakers, winning unprecedented quality-of-life gains, giving a voice to the rank-and-file, and establishing the United Auto Workers as one of the most influential unions in American history. As UAW President for nearly three decades, Walter Reuther is heralded as a visionary negotiator and statesman, with his brothers as advisors on community, political, and international affairs. Together, they forge a potent coalition of Washington lawmakers, overseas dignitaries, and social activist forces. The union’s innovative settlement details encourage a flourishing middle-class, while its resources support the burgeoning civil rights movement in a shared fight for equality. On the opposite side of this impassioned battle, stands a devious web of adversaries threatened by the Reuthers’ ambitions and determined to silence them by any means necessary. FBI files overflow with accusations of power-hungry subversion. Conservatives and leaders of industry team up to discredit the union. Dissent within the UAW bubbles to the surface as the Reuther brothers face heart-wrenching consequences at the crossroads of their political loyalty and militant rank-and-file roots. In a shocking turn of events, assassination attempts strike down Walter and Victor in their homes! Both narrowly survive while the ensuing investigation uncovers further controversy. Behind the headlines, lies a stirring personal story of determination, sacrifice, triumph, and tragedy. The odyssey of the Reuther brothers and the issues that crossed their family table are a microcosm of the American experience from the Great Depression to “Great Society” and beyond. Brothers On The Line comes to life through a captivating collection of mixed-media elements: Previously unreleased motion picture footage and photos from the United Auto Workers internal archive depict the anguish of factory life, key strike battles, rousing speeches, intriguing Senate hearings, civil rights marches, and much more. Oral histories recorded at milestones in the Reuthers’ careers, open a portal to the past. Current high-definition interviews offer decisive analysis of the history, with subjects including Reuther family members, (including Walter's daughter, Linda Reuther, who lives here and many of you know: her cousin Sasha is the filmmaker) activist Dolores Huerta, Civil Rights leader Andrew Young, Rep. John Conyers Jr., as well as the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Taped phone conversations between Walter and then President Lyndon Johnson are especially interesting to listen to. Original film provides depth to climactic scenes and reflects a lost era: Detroit and Flint factories, family homes, city landmarks, memorabilia, etc. Robust sound effects bring to life silent archival films, accentuating the size and power of the auto industry shop floor. The music soundtrack consists of popular anthems of the day, from union marching songs to 60s Rhythm-and-Blues, along with an original score, pulsing with tension, exhilaration, and the drive of the assembly line. Finally, the evolving design of the automobile itself is explored. Imagery of classic American cars and auto body parts, from hood emblems to tailfins, are incorporated in scene transitions and used to define eras through cultural icons.”