- Fires Merge
- Losak Sued
- Freedman Fiasco
- Bail Reduced
- Playoff Team
- FB Journalism
- Pennyroyal Sign
- Yesterday's Catch
- Giants Mugging
- Divine Love
- Ones for Fours
- Drug Freaked
- Lyme Group
- Seduction Speech
- Supreme Anxiety
- GJ Bill
- Aigner Legacy
ON SATURDAY THE JERUSALEM FIRE merged with the Rocky Fire greatly increasing containment to 80% and allowing CalFire to lift all evacuations and road closures. But the still burning huge fire continued to generate enormous amounts of smoke that wafted around the North Bay all day Saturday.
CalFire: “The burnout of the interior islands continues to threaten fire control lines. Crews are safely able to make access to evaluate damaged structures due to reduced fire activity. Teams will continue to survey the fire area to complete a final assessment. The public should maintain awareness as fire crews and emergency vehicles continue to work in the area. … There are still isolated pockets of smoldering fuel producing large amounts of heat and smoke which continue to pose a risk of spotting outside the fire perimeter. Resources will continue to mop up hot spots and patrol the line for several days. As residents re-enter their property and evaluate damage, they should be aware that hazardous conditions may exist, particularly if a residence or out-building has burned. If you see electrical wires on the ground, stay clear and contact PG&E immediately."
SUNDAY MORNING JERUSALEM FIRE UPDATE (7am): 25,156 acres burned; 82% contained; 9 residences and 18 outbuildings destroyed.
JOAN TURNER IS SUING MENDOCINO COUNTY and Interim County Counsel Doug Losak in federal court alleging numerous violations of her constitutional rights. Ms. Turner was an attorney in the County Counsel's office assigned to child welfare cases. When Doug "Midnight Rambler" Losak was appointed acting County Counsel he became Joan Turner's supervisor. They had a mutual dislike for each other, based at least in part on the Midnight Rambler's late night escapades that resulted in his arrest for speeding down the highway with a bag of dope and an unregistered concealed weapon stuffed under the front seat of his car. Losak was aware that Ms. Turner did not approve of his extracurricular activities. While Ms. Turner was out on leave for one or more medical conditions, instead of accommodating her medical needs, Losak is alleged to have singled her out for retaliation and discrimination based on age, gender and medical condition. Losak's conduct is alleged to have been so blatantly retaliatory that he is being sued as an individual in addition to his official capacity as Mendocino County's attorney. The case is on the Board of Supes closed session agenda for next Tuesday — perhaps to determine if the County is going to pay Losak's (likely high) legal expenses.
MENDO'S FREEDMAN FIASCO
by Mark Scaramella
Back in 2003, long time readers may recall, Child Support Services Director Ralph Freedman got into some legal difficulties stemming from his malicious encounters with some county employees in his office across the street from the Courthouse. The office encounters were so over the top hostile that then-District Norm Vroman filed Disturbing the Peace charges after the Board of Supervisors at the time refused to fire Freedman.
Freedman was ultimately found not-guilty on a technicality after much legal wrangling.
Freedman’s tantrums and verbal abuse were bad enough, but official Mendocino County's awful personnel practices were a significant contributing factor in what came to be known as The Freedman Fiasco.
Ralph Freedman was not hired in a conventional manner. He was first employed in 1999 as a contractor/consultant to prepare the County's initial plan to move the Deadbeat Dad Collections office out of the District Attorney's office, in the wake of a statewide opinion that DA's weren't collecting enough money from non-custodial parents.
Never mind that Mr. Freedman had no experience in child support collections — at all. Nada.
No matter. Over time, Freedman morphed from contractor to Mendocino's official Director of Child Support Services soon after the department was transferred out of the DA's office. When Mendocino County's personnel manager Sue Campbell — a self-described “very, very close friend” of Freedman -- was asked about a pre-employment background check in court in a pre-trial hearing, Ms. Campbell casually replied, “I made a few calls but I don't remember what they said.”
Ms. Campbell must have only called Freedman's friends as listed on his resume, because nothing that she was told got in the way of Freedman's hiring. No one checked with the city officials mentioned in easily available on-line newspaper articles describing Mr. Freedman's previous volatile employment history in American Canyon and Atherton.
Nevertheless, after Mr. Freedman predictably flipped out on two county employees in the spring of 2003 (screaming, banging on desks and walls, and otherwise frightening them), the County Supervisors quickly voted to approve paying for Freedman's expensive legal defense in closed session the day after DA Norm Vroman filed charges. The closed-session decision to pay these legal fees did not mention Freedman by name nor the nature of the complaint in the brief report out of closed session — a sheepish cover-up. Apparently the supposedly cash-strapped Supervisors (those who voted in favor of paying, at least) couldn't even bring themselves to delay the decision for a week to look into the matter before deciding to pay thousands of hard-to-come-by tax dollars on Fredman’s defense costs.
The Anderson Valley Advertiser soon filed a taxpayer suit to stop the payment of these outlandish legal fees on the grounds that California government code prohibits such payment if the charges involve “malice” — which they did according to the charges as approved by two local judges, and the penal code, not to mention the two county employees who suffered through Freedman's flip outs.
After many gratuitous delays, the taxpayer suit was denied by a visiting judge (Mendo's sitting judges refused to hear the case) who, after pointing out irrelevant procedural errors, told the AVA Editor that the Supervisors had acted within their discretion, in spite of the fact that two Mendo judges had previously approved the filing of the inherently malicious criminal charges.
Subsequently, the Supervisors quietly capped Freedman's defense cost reimbursement at $30,000, very belatedly realizing that they'd screwed up royally, and after having paid about $25,000 in lawyer fees.
After another office incident which led to more criminal charges, Freedman went on to “resign” in the fall of 2003 (presumably because the Supervisors generously gave him the option of resigning or being fired), thus validating and enlarging the original charges. The “resignation” was conducted by a uniformed County security officer who escorted Mr. Freedman from his office, after which the locks to his former office were immediately changed and courthouse bailiffs were put on Freedman Alert.
In an attempt at retaliation following Mr. Freedman's “resignation,” Mrs. Freedman, through her high-priced county-paid Santa Rosa Attorney Jamie Thistlethwaite (now a SoCo judge), alleged that DA Vroman had improperly released information from Mr. and Mrs. Freedman's "CLETS" (California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System) record. These transparently bogus charges were duly accepted by the Ukiah Police Department and reported on in front page stories in the local press — even though they had already been shown to be unfounded at the initial hearing when Freedman tried to get Vroman removed from the case. At that time, Assistant DA Richard Martin (now a Lake County judge) explained, in the presence of all the local reporters covering the case and Attorney Thistlethwaite, that there were exemptions to the restrictions on releasing the CLETS information. The restrictions only apply to information maintained by State Department of Justice, not to information maintained by other agencies such as DMV. Unless the Freedmans have criminal records (and there's no indication that they do, so far), there's no CLETS violation — DMV violation records are not restricted. Even so, the CLETS reports were only given to Mr. Freedman's various local, state and federal supervisors and were not made public.
The Ukiah Police have said they're referring Mrs. Freedman's complaint to the state Attorney General's office, leaving the false impression that they have some legal validity, but really meaning, “Don't bother us about this any more,” since such AG referrals routinely get lost in the filing cabinets of the interchangeable gray concrete buildings in Sacramento.
All the Mendocino County officials who created and failed to fix this entirely avoidable problem from the Supervisors through then-County Administrator Jim Andersen, then-County Counsel Peter Klein, Deputy County Counsel Frank Zotter, and then-Mendocino Personnel Director Sue Campbell remained in their jobs, uncensured, unpenalized, uncriticized. None of them acknowledged any error, or complained about this expensive mess. There was been no discussion of the lack of an ordinary background check prior to hiring someone for an important county position with no experience in the job by a “very, very close friend.”
The public was left to think that the Freedman Fiasco is business as usual for Mendocino County executive hiring and administration.
The only County official who came out looking good in this mess was then-District Attorney Norm Vroman who demanded that the Supervisors do something about their out-of-control Child Support Services Director. When nothing was done, Vroman proceeded to file the initial charges which eventually led to Freedman's long-overdue resignation.
Bruce Mordhorst subsequently took over Freedman’s job Mendocino County and as far as we know has not flipped out on any employees. Freedman moved to Florida after his final 2004 trial.
FATAL HIT & RUN SUSPECT BAIL REDUCED TO $25K: HE'S BEEN FREE ON BAIL SINCE MONDAY!
After writing about the "Celebration of Life" for fatal hit & run victim Jacob "Jake" Howard that will be taking place today on Noyo Beach, we went to the Mendocino County Sheriff's "Booking Log" to see if there was any change in status for the person accused of striking Jake Howard while he was on his bike July 12th on Highway 1 near mile marker 58.50, Isabel Jose Gutierrez-Villarreal.
We found 5'6", 188-pound, 41-year-old Gutierrez-Villarreal had made bail Monday, August 10 (@ 4:42 pm) after his bail was reduced from $100,000 to $25,000. He was booked on two felonies on July 21st: "Vehicular Manslaughter-In Commission Of An Unlawful Act With Gross Negligence" and "Hit & Run-Injury Or Fatal."
The reduction in bail means the "normal" bail bond needed (10% of bail amount) was reduced from $10,000 to an attainable $2,500.
BACKGROUND Jacob "Jake" Howard, age 36, was pedaling his blue bicycle south along Highway one (in a WIDE breakdown lane) on Sunday, July 12th when he was struck from behind around 4:20pm by a vehicle described by a witness as a red pickup. There were no brake marks at the scene and the speed limit is 55 mph on that stretch of road. The truck allegedly drove three miles and exited onto Fern Creek Road in Caspar.
Eight days passed and, while law enforcement followed up a lot of leads, there was no break in the case until the CHP and the Mendocino County Major Crimes Task Force descended onto 120 Hocker Lane about 9:30 am Monday, July 20th and a red pickup truck stashed in the garage was seized. The arrest of Gutierrez-Villareal followed.
This is a reprint of the CHP Traffic "incident" log the day of the accident (Sunday, July 12):
4:22 PM Fatality Sr1/Pearl Dr SB 1 At Pearl Dr
5:28 PM 11  Late Entry 18-S2 CPZ 1718 HRS
5:26 PM 10  1039 Caltrans- Aaron Christian-
4:37 PM 9  1039 18-3 4:35 PM 8  1039 FBPD
4:23 PM 7  [Appended, 16:24:20]  Bicyclist Hit
4:23 PM 6  [Appended, 16:24:54]  Bicyclist Hit
4:23 PM 5  1039 CDF 4:22 PM 4  Ped Laying On Side Of Rdwy Bleeding
4:22 PM 3   JSO Simpson Ln JNO Kirkland
4:21 PM 2   Man Lying On Side Of Rd
4:21 PM 1   1/Simpson Ln
The booking photo of fatal hit & run suspect Jose Gutierrez-Villarreal taken 9:18 am July 21st. Photo courtesy of the Mendocino County Sheriff office.
(Courtesy, the essential mendocinosportsplus)
EDITOR’S 2015 49ERS PREDICTION — 30 minutes before Saturday’s exhibition game kickoff against the Houston Texans: The Niners will be much improved, so improved they’ll make the playoffs.
JOURNALISM IN FORT BRAGG
There’s a new editor at the Fort Bragg Abdicate. But this time it’s a real journalist – Chris Calder! Unlike his timid predecessors, Calder challenged the local hospital in an exposé titled, ‘Contracts raise issues at hospital’. That was August 6th. One of those issues was a contractor named Summit Pain Alliance. You can find reviews about them at yelp.com. With comments like, ‘I was actually flopping on the table like a fish out of water.’ And ‘The office staff and manager are the worst I have seen in my life.’ The hospital’s got some doozies there too. One reads, ‘The hospitalist program borders on malpractice.’ Another says, ‘I should’ve listened when I was told this emergency room sucks. It does.’ Calder’s article prompted a deluge of two whole letters in the following week’s issue. Neither of them kind. Prompting Mommy to bench Mister Calder.
That’s Sharon DiMauro – the woman at the wheel. For the last thirty years, DiMauro has fought hammer-and-tong to stifle public outcry about the local hospital. Including a sycophantic masterpiece from July 30th titled, ‘Hospital will always rely on community’. Warning the public against relying on ‘hearsay and rumors’ about the place. Calder wrote a piece in that issue too. But wasn’t quite drinking the Kool-Aid. Nonetheless, he ran some pretty charts from Dr. Bill Rohr. All of them painting a rosy picture. Quite compelling unless you’ve got an Internet connection. Which Calder apparently has.
His follow-up article must have infuriated DiMauro. Not only did it undo decades of brownnosing. He wrote it like a real journalist. Interviewing unhappy hospital employees and – gulp – actually quoting them. Needless to say, the issue from August 13th was Calder-less. And aside from a couple of pissed-off letters from hospital patients, it said bupkis about the hospital. As usual, DiMauro printed nothing under her own byline. Publishing the usual bootlicking tributes under the names of low-paid employees instead. Except Calder.
It’s hard to see any middle ground here. So either Calder can suck it up and start writing puff pieces. Or DiMauro can run a real newspaper. Then there’s the third option. That one of them bails. But until then, it’s something you’ve just gotta see. Journalism in Fort Bragg.
Scott M. Peterson
DOING SIGNAGE RIGHT
CATCH OF THE DAY, August 15, 2015
JORDAN CARTER, Cypress (SoCal)/Ukiah-State Parks. Unauthorized entry of dwelling, possession of controlled substance, probation revocation.
SEAN FLINTON, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
SOREN GREGSON, Ukiah. Drunk in public, probation revocation.
ORREN HALE JR., Willits. Domestic battery.
CARRIE HOAGLIN, Covelo. Parole violation.
ERIN JENNISON, Willits. DUI, suspended license, probation revocation.
HOANG LY, San Jose. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, probation revocation.
DANIEL MONTALVO, Redwood Valley. Failure to appear.
NICOLE PACHECO, Lakeport/Ukiah. Drunk in public.
JOHN RUTHERFORD, Willits. Stolen vehicle, possession of controlled substance and smoking-injecting device, false ID, probation revocation.
ARTURO VEGA, Salem, Oregon/Ukiah. DUI, suspended license, failure to appear.
TASHA WAKE, Willits. Vehicle theft, petty theft-retail.
A GENUINE ECOHOUSE
THE GIANTS JOIN THE CUTE MOVEMENT
The idea of promoting the Giants by having them---and their manager---mug for the camera is just awful. Hard to believe any real baseball fan wants to see them doing this. All they should be doing is playing baseball, which they usually do very well.
The SF Weekly explains what this is about:
“The San Francisco Giants released a goofy but charming spoof of the Full House credit sequence on Twitter today, to promote the team's upcoming Full House tribute night, scheduled for September 30. The video is pretty fun — who doesn't get a tad nostalgic when they hear the opening bars of ‘Everywhere You Look’ — although it devolves a little when Dave Coulier appears for a creepy cameo. But which player matches up with which member of the Tanner/Katsopolis household?”
I admit that I've never seen Full House, which is apparently a TV show. After seeing this video, I'm determined to never see it. I've never heard that song, either, and I don't know — or care — who Dave Coulier is. What's "creepy" is Bruce Bochy grinning like an idiot.
Since the Giants are selling out every game, this promo is not only an embarrassment and demeaning to the participants, it is completely unnecessary.
— Rob Anderson (Courtesy, District 5 Diary)
LOVE A MAN even in his sin, for that is the semblance of Divine Love and is the highest love on earth. Love all God's creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love. — Father Zossima, The Brothers Karamazov
THIS IS FROM Family and Children’s Services (FCS) last System Improvement Plan (SIP) Progress Report. This statement by Deputy Director Jena Connor contradicts several of the County’s responses to the Grand Jury’s report “Children at Risk.”
“Mendocino County continues to have significant staffing shortages and changes in our division. We have replace 3/4 of our management staff in the last two years. We filled our vacant Deputy Director position on February 18, 2013. These changes have made an impact to our agency since it put an extra burden on the remaining three Program Managers we had at that time. In November 2013 we hired our fourth Program Manager after a vacancy of that position for two years. We are currently in the process of hiring additional Social Worker staff to fill vacancies that have existed for some time. We are having difficulty recruiting and retaining qualified social workers since our neighboring county, Sonoma, offers a more competitive salary package. Because of staff reductions due to promotions, retirements and Social Workers leaving to other counties for higher wages, it requires creative solutions such as hiring entry level Social Workers and Social Worker Assistants that can eventually promote into Social Worker positions. This places additional work demands on our more experienced Social Worker staff to meet State mandates regarding child protection and services issues. Until 2/17/14, we were down 16 social worker positions, which includes the addition of four new social worker positions to help reduce caseloads. Since then we have hired 9 new social workers. We are actively trying to fill the remaining 7 vacancies. Probation is experiencing similar staff challenges.” http://www.childsworld.ca.gov/res/SIPs/2014MendocinoSIP.pdf
Jena Connor “Deputy Director, Family and Children’s Services.”
Annual SIP Progress Report, APRIL 2014, CDSS
The big problem with filling the staffing vacancies is that they are replacing Social Worker IVs they lost with Social Worker Is. Mendocino’s Director of Social Services, Bryan Lowery, is a big proponent of using “Grow your own” social workers because he was one. He started as an aide and promoted up. He is proof that you do not need an advanced degree in Mendocino to succeed. That is too bad, he could have used some of those ethics courses and a class or two in statistics.
— James Marmon
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Does anybody still give a shit about Bruce Jenner? He was a topic at several websites not long ago. I ran into one of his relatives at the post office recently, I hadn’t seen her in a long time. I asked, what’s the deal with Bruce? She told me what the family thinks, his real family back here, not the TV family. He made the ’72 Olympic team and was at the games in Munich, but didn’t do to well. She asked me if I remembered how he was built then, like a major league 2nd baseman, graceful, not a lot of muscles, well toned. After that he went to one of these Olympic Villages and began training for the 76 Olympics, and physically, changed completely, all bulked up, really ripped (her words). The thought is they pumped him full of steroids and other unnamed drugs — remember this was right after the Ken Kesey, Tim Leary era, better living thru chemistry — which threw his natural physical equilibrium out of balance. She said all the talk of feeling like a female as a boy is just TV bullshit. They believe the massive amount drugs and chemicals given to him to enhance his athletic performance then made him into the freak he is today. That’s the word around town anyway. How valid it is I don’t know.
LYME DISEASE SUPPORT GROUP
The Mendocino County Lyme Support Group had their first meeting last week and there were 29 attendees. The next meeting is Tuesday, August 25th, 6-7:30 p.m. at the NCO (North Coast Opportunities) Center, 413 North State Street in Ukiah. (About 2 blocks north of the court house on the east side of the street.) Any questions can be directed to Chiah Rodriques, 707-489-6029.
Sue Davies, 707-895-2511
MISS FARKIS laughed and Shrike raised his fist as though to strike her. His actions shocked the bartender, who hurriedly asked them to go into the back room. Miss Lonelyhearts did not want to go along but Shrike insisted and he was too tired to argue.
They seated themselves at a table inside one of the booths. Shrike again raised his fist, but when Miss Farkis drew back, he changed the gesture to a caress. The trick worked. She gave in to his hand until he became too daring, then pushed him away.
Shrike again began to shout and this time Miss Lonelyhearts understood that he was making a seduction speech.
"I am a great saint," Shrike cried, "I can walk on my own water. Haven't you ever heard of Shrike's Passion in the Luncheonette, or the Agony in the Soda Fountain? Then I compared the wounds in Christ's body to the mouths of a miraculous purse in which we deposit the small change of our sins. It is indeed an excellent conceit. But now let us consider the holes in our own bodies and into what these congenital wounds open. Under the skin of man is a wondrous jungle where veins like lush tropical growths hang along over-ripe organs and weed-like entrails writhe in squirming tangles of red and yellow. In this jungle, flitting from rock-gray lungs to golden intestines, from liver to lights and back to liver again, lives a bird called the soul. The Catholic hunts this bird with bread and wine, the Hebrew with a golden ruler, the Protestant on leaden feet with leaden words, the Buddhist with gestures, the Negro with blood. I spit on them all. Phooh! And I call upon you to spit. Phooh! Do you stuff birds? No, my dears, taxidermy is not religion. No! A thousand times no. Better, I say unto you, better a live bird in the jungle of the body than two stuffed birds on the library table."
His caresses kept pace with the sermon. When he had reached the end, he buried his triangular face like the blade of a hatchet in her neck.
— Nathanael West, Miss Lonelyhearts
by Jeffrey St. Clair & Alexander Cockburn (July 2000)
We’re being offered two reasons for voting Democrat next November. One reason is the Republicans will destroy Social Security. The other is that a Republican President will appoint Supreme Court judges who will outlaw abortion. That’s about it. Star Wars will continue; the War on Drugs will continue, ending welfare as we know it will continue; building more prisons and death chambers will continue; Colombian counter-insurgency/drug war will expand; NAFTA and WTO will march forward. But the remnants of FDR's New Deal (now a very Small Deal) and the Roe v Wade decision will continue “thanks to Gore”.
Is that really it?
Every four years the “left” is asked to stand quietly aside and keep quiet during the campaign and then slink into the polling place, hold its nose, and vote for the lesser of two evils. Meanwhile the Democratic Party can focus on luring the dangerous lumpen-proletariat from the dread “Right” and put all its big money into pitching the center and center-right. The “left” should be thankful for small gains, avoid raising the “class question” or scaring the super rich away from Demo contributions.
The ceremony of the lesser of two evils has differed. The most effective argument ever offered in this genre was in 1964: LBJ was our man in order to keep Barry Goldwater’s itchy finger off the nuclear trigger. Usually these arguments are pitched late in the campaign – never before the conventions. The classic argument is that they will take away the New Deal but now that Clinton/Gore are proud New Deal dismantlers we are left with the last remnant - Social Security – and abortion. Democrats are already invoking the specter of George W. Bush stocking the US Supreme Court with two or three more Justices like Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas eager to drag the country into the Middle Ages, annul Roe v Wade and put the back-street abortionists back in business.
Even nuttier: noticing that the Republicans disowned Earl Warren, the Democrats have appropriated the Warren Court as their own. And following the same “logic”, since the Republicans are forced to oppose Roe v Wade, the Democrats have appropriated that case as well. But the Warren Court was burdened primarily by Truman’s disastrous appointments (Burton, Vinson, Clark, Minton). Warren and Brennan — two bright lights — were appointed by Ike. The great Hugo Black was of course appointed by FDR in 1937 two years before Douglas, but can we today imagine the Democrats appointing a man who’d been a member of the Ku Klux Klan?
As for Roe v Wade, which US Supreme Court Justice, dissenting to that opinion, wrote these bitterly sarcastic words: “The Constitution of the United States values the convenience, whim, or caprice of the putative mother more than the life or potential life of the foetus.” Yes, this was Byron “Whizzer” White, put on the Court by John Kennedy, a man of the same sort of Democratic profile as Al Gore. White disappointed liberals, the same way that David Souter, appointed by George Bush, disappoints conservatives today. If Hubert Humphrey had defeated Nixon in 1968 are we really sure that his first two appointments would have -like Burger and Blackmun (who wrote the Roe v Wade decision) taken the same course that they did on Roe v Wade.
It is very easy to see Humphrey appointing a Catholic-approved nominee in one of those seats. And if RFK had not been shot had won the nomination and beat Nixon? What court then?
A Democrat in the White House is no guarantee of a liberal on the Court. Gerald Ford picked John Stevens, one of the court’s current liberal champions and indeed the only justice to rule against two oil companies in one of the recent batch of Supreme Court decisions. Nixon’s nominee, Harold Blackmun, wrote the Roe v Wade decision. Twenty years later Bush Sr.’s nominee, Souter, probably the most liberal justice today, wrote the Planned Parenthood v Casey decision in 1992 reaffirming the “essential holding” of Roe v Wade, and arguing that “choice” was now installed in the national culture. The Court echoed that view in its recent upholding of the Miranda rule.
And why had choice become thus installed, why was the “essential holding” being reaffirmed? Through the activity of social movements, through the political pressure of millions of people. The idea that our moral fabric, the tenor of our culture, the texture of our freedoms derive from the US Supreme Court, and therefore somehow depend on whom Gore or Bush may or may not nominate, is ludicrous. The US Supreme Court, like all ruling state institutions, bends in a benign direction only under the impulse of powerful social movements.
Throughout the nation’s history the US Supreme Court has generally been a reactionary force and it will no doubt be so whether Gore or Bush are elected in November, or whether the Democrats or Republicans control the Senate. A partial exception was the Warren court, which had the coincidence of three great justices, Black, Douglas and the Eisenhower-appointed William Brennan and which was prompted by the rise of civil rights movement and the political assertion of black people to try and head off more drastic social explosions. In so doing it buttressed a federal government that was unflinchingly hostile to the interest of working people, minorities and the environment. Reynolds vs Sims, in 1966, turned many rural counties into third-world latifundia.
So which is the more realistic political option: to vote for Al Gore, despite his generally awful political positions, because he might pick a judge who might turn out to be okay; or to look at Al Gore’s recent record, which is not a matter of conjecture and extrapolate from that record the sort of person he’d been likely to nominate.
Affirmative action? The National Partnership for Reinventing Government, overseen by Gore, was denounced last year by the national legislative review committee of Blacks in Government as having been “generally silent about fairness and equality issues” and as having had “a devastating impact on federal government workers, particularly racial minorities.”
First Amendment? Gore was for censorship of the internet, and fully supported his wife Tipper’s efforts to install censorship in the recording industry. War powers? In the Clinton years Gore has been the biggest hawk of all for executive action, unfettered by Congress. Constitutional protections and the Bill of Rights? The Clinton-Gore administration has been ghastly on these issues. It wasn’t the US Supreme Court that limited habeas corpus for people on Death Row, it was Bill Clinton’s Counter-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, fully supported by Vice President Al Gore.
Would Democrats want a nominee picked by a man with this political record? Actually, they couldn’t care less. If they did care, they’d be out campaigning for Ralph Nader. All they want to do is scare the pants off liberals with the idea that Bush would finish off Roe v Wade. It’s a substantively vacuous and bankrupt position but it’s pretty much all they’ve got left. CP
CALIFORNIA BANS GRAND JURIES IN FATAL SHOOTINGS BY POLICE
by Tracey Kaplan
Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Tuesday making California the first state in the nation to ban the use of grand juries to decide whether police officers should face criminal charges when they kill people in the line of duty.
The ban, which will go into effect next year, comes after grand juries in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York, made controversial decisions in secret hearings last year not to bring charges against officers who killed unarmed black men, sparking protests across the country. Calls for transparency also have come amid national concerns about disparate treatment of blacks and other racial minorities when encounters with cops turned deadly in Baltimore, Cincinnati and South Carolina.
"What the governor's decision says is, he gets it -- the people don't want secrecy when it comes to officer-involved shootings," said retired judge and former San Jose independent police auditor LaDoris Cordell, the first African-American appointed as a judge in Northern California and a key supporter of the bill. "We're not trying to get more officers indicted. We're saying, 'Whatever you decide, do it in the open'."
The governor Tuesday also signed a bill by state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, that makes it clear it is legal to take a photograph or video of a police officer while the officer is in a public place or in a place the person photographing the action has a right to be. Both bills are the first of a wave of Ferguson-inspired criminal justice reforms now making their way through the Legislature.
The grand jury ban accomplishes officially what many California district attorneys, including in Santa Clara and Los Angeles counties, are doing already -- deciding themselves whether to bring criminal charges against police officers rather than presenting evidence in a closed hearing to a grand jury and letting the panel decide. Only one other state -- Connecticut -- bans the use of grand juries for all criminal indictments, but that taboo dates back to the early 1980s and has nothing to do with the current protests over the treatment of people of color by police.
Supporters of California's ban, including the legislation's author, state Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, argued that Senate Bill 227 is necessary to stop even limited use of the grand jury option and to help restore trust in the criminal justice system. They contended that using a grand jury to decide if there is enough evidence to bring charges against cops serves mostly as political cover for district attorneys reluctant to impugn the police officers with whom they work closely and on whom they depend for crucial political support.
No judges or defense attorneys participate in the grand jury process, and in California, transcripts of the hearings are sealed unless someone is indicted or a judge grants permission for their release.
Mitchell, who is African-American, called the ban "an important first step in ongoing efforts to build public trust, transparency and accountability, in an atmosphere of suspicion that compromises our justice system."
But the California District Attorneys Association and the California Police Chiefs Association opposed the ban, saying the grand jury should be preserved as an option. Imposing a blanket prohibition would discriminate against police officers on the basis of their occupation, they argued. The association suggested that the Legislature could increase transparency by allowing grand jury transcripts to be released in cases for which no one was indicted.
Mark Zahner, CEO of the California District Attorneys Association, said putting the decision in the hands of prosecutors doesn't increase transparency, though some district attorneys issue reports explaining their rationale. Either way, he said, "It's absolutely ludicrous to espouse or believe that police officers get treated any differently than anyone else."
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen joined his fellow district attorneys in opposing the grand jury ban, saying it should be preserved as an option for communities that prefer to use it. He has not filed homicide charges against any officers since taking office in 2011. But Rosen also has not taken any of those cases to grand juries, instead opting to issue lengthy reports laying out the reasons behind his decisions.
Under the ban, district attorneys starting next year will be required to weigh the evidence against police officers and decide whether to file criminal charges, as they do in the vast majority of all cases. A judge then hears from both prosecutors and defense attorneys at a preliminary hearing before ruling whether the matter should go to trial. District attorneys whose decisions are questionable will be accountable to voters.
More than 400 people were killed by officers in California in the 2.5 years from January 2014 through July of this year, authorities estimate. No figures are available on how many of the officers were charged, if any. It is rare for police to face criminal charges because prosecutors must be able to prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the officer acted criminally, rather than in self-defense. California law also allows an officer to use deadly force against a fleeing person if the officer believes the suspect has committed a violent felony and his or her escape would pose a significant and serious threat.
Even when a case is brought to trial, officers are rarely convicted.
In 2004, the last time an officer was charged in Santa Clara County, for instance, a grand jury in a rare open proceeding indicted state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement agent Mike Walker on criminal charges in the fatal shooting of Rodolfo Cardenas, whom he had mistaken for a wanted parole violator. In 2005, a jury acquitted Walker of voluntary manslaughter charges. However, the state paid nearly $1 million to settle civil lawsuits filed by his family claiming excessive force.
However, in 2009, Alameda County prosecutors charged former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle with murder in the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant III at the Fruitvale BART station earlier that year. He was convicted in 2010 of involuntary manslaughter instead.
Support for the ban in the Legislature split largely along party lines, with four moderate Democrats joining Republicans to oppose it. Supporters include the California chapter of the NAACP, the ACLU and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).
Contact Tracey Kaplan at 408-278-3482. Follow her at Twitter.com @tkaplanreport.
(Courtesy, the San Jose Mercury News)
To the Editor:
Shelia Dawn-Tracy's recent (August 12) article, "The Latest from Radio Snarl", is spot-on. Her article is so accurate, it hurts. KZYX is indeed a nasty place. Nasty. But the question is why? Isn't community radio supposed to be warm and fuzzy? Lovey-dovey?
Perhaps not. And here's why: Mary Aigner. Lay the blame squarely at the feet of Program Director, Mary Aigner.
Aigner has been at KZYX since its founding 25 years ago, and she’ll do anything to keep her no-show, do-nothing job, including censoring and purging her critics.
Aigner has no formal job description, does not keep a work log or time sheet, and does not receive job performance evaluations by the station’s board of directors. She gets a free ride.
Aigner’s job, incidentally, pays really well by Anderson Valley standards — about 50-grand, plus benefits.
The only other job for which Aigner is qualified is growing pot, which, incidentally, she did when she first moved to Anderson Valley.
Aigner grew pot with her then-partner and the father of her two daughters, Joe Leon-Guererro. Life was good. Pot prices were high back in the day. Guererro and Aigner even got jobs at the fledgling KZYX.
Life was good. But then, Guererro got busted. He got busted by Aigner. Guererro had been having an affair. Aigner caught her partner and father of her kids bending over another female staffer at the radio station — literally bending her over the control board when Aigner walked into the studio. The poor gal's panties were down at her ankles. Her little ruffled skirt up over her back. She moaned. He gasped. He gasped at the sight of his common law wife. It was all quite shameful.
Busted, Mr. Guererro left Aigner -- and Philo -- and far behind with his new lover. In fact, Mr. Guererro couldn't get far enough away from Philo. He moved to Guam, where he remains to this day.
This dysfunctionality has colored KZYX ever since that time early in the station’s history.
Aigner is an angry woman. She is hard. She is nasty. Worst of all, this toxic personality is at the center of the KZYX universe.
My prediction? Aigner’s anger, mistrust, cynicism, and hostility will ultimately lead to an early death — KZYX’s death.
There is very little else anyone needs to know about what is wrong at our beloved community radio station.
And keep in mind one very important thing besides Aigner toxic personality. The one constant in KZYX’s 25-history has been Mary Aigner. She has seen any number of executive directors and general managers come and go. She has seen many, many board directors come and go. But Aigner remains. She is the one constant.
Aigner -- and her anger, mistrust, cynicism, and hostility -- is our legacy. Nothing will change at KZYX until she leaves.
Want to force her departure? Stop giving to KZYX. Starve the beast. Money and memberships talk.
And when Aigner is gone, KZYX should eliminate the position of Program Director. We don't need one. The station's 70-80 programmers do all their own work for their respective shows. They schedule their own guests. They outline their own shows and prepare their own questions for their guests. They download all their own music. And the station's 70-80 programmers do it all for free. They're all volunteers who don't get paid a dime.
Another thing. We'll save the 50-grand plus benefits we pay Aigner. With those savings, KZYX can make much-needed improvements to infrastructure and the broadcast signal. Or it can start a Ukiah studio.
Starve the beast. Remember: A part of any money you give during a pledge drive goes to Aigner.
This nastiness -- especially Aigner's censoring and purging of her critics -- has got to stop. Twenty-five years is long enough.
John Sakowicz, Ukiah
KZYX Board of Directors, 2013-2016, Board Treasurer, 2014