PAINFUL LAYOFFS FOR WILLITS SCHOOLS
By Jennifer Poole , Willits Weekly
The Willits school board OKd issuing pink slips for 11.5 teachers at its meeting last night — well, the equivalent in hours of 11.5 fulltime teachers. Some of these layoffs may be rescinded if the state Legislature includes Governor Brown’s proposed local control education funding formula in next year’s budget or through negotiations with the Willits Teachers Association. But layoffs for the following school year are required to be issued by March 15. Positions eliminated include: nine full-time-equivalent elementary school teachers; 1 FTE high school English teacher; 1 FTE middle school Science teacher; and .75 FTE middle school Physical Education teacher.
The names of individual teachers who will be receiving pink slips are not yet public information.
The working budget for the 2013/14 school year assumes a $634,673 savings from the elimination of 10.5 fulltime teachers and another $102,500 savings from the retirement of one fulltime administrator who will not be replaced.
Other pink slips will go to 2 FTE certificated administrative services staffers and 1 part-time Special Education instructional assistant, as well as to fulltime facilities project director Wayne Bashore and fulltime BRONCO director Pat Sanborn. The “Safe Schools, Healthy Students” BRONCO grant is just about completed, and Interim Superintendent Debbie Pearson told school board members Wednesday night: “The building project is coming to a close, and we expect to be finished up with all the figures by the end of next week.”
“Figures” refers to the total final costs of all the completed construction work, with all extra expenses and change orders added in. That’s an important figure, because it will finalize the original estimate of $3.7 million remaining in the bond construction budget, which will likely need to be used to repay a nearly $5 million bond anticipation note loan due in July 2014. Business manager Katie Aguilar told board members that Brown’s proposal, if adopted as is, would guarantee a 10.25% increase in funding for Willits its first year. The “local control” formula would provide more funding to districts with a high percentage of free lunch students, like Willits, and also to districts with many English language learners. But next year’s budget must be based on current funding, not on a proposal that has not yet been passed.
Willits Weekly looked at the list of estimated increases for school districts released by the CA Dept. of Finance two weeks ago, and that list shows state funding for Willits schools could go from $6,940 per student annually to $11,171 over seven years. It’s not clear what already existing state-funded programs are included in those figures. Federal “sequestration” — or across-the-board cuts to federal programs instituted March 1 — will mean an 8% cut in Willits school funding next year, or $65,000, Aguilar told the board. The district also underestimated the loss of students to the Willits charter schools this year by 26 students, so next year’s budget will have to be adjusted downward to account for that, too. Relocating the district office from its leased location on Pearl Street to somewhere on a school campus is projected to save $30,000. Another savings is $11,445 from a district office clerk who has taken another job, and who will not be replaced. A total of $778,618 in reductions is built into the proposed 2013/14 school budget.
In January, the Mendocino County Office of Education told the Willits school board the level of deficit spending in Willits in recent years was unacceptable, and the district had to reduce its budget by at least $750,000 this year, with another $750,000 in cuts likely to be needed next year.
The district has already been reducing its budget: $500,000 in school cuts have been made every year since 2001, but cuts in expenses have not kept pace with cuts in funding and lower funding due to declining enrollment. County offices of education are required to review school district budgets and intervene whenever the county superintendent determines that a school district may not meet its financial obligations for the current or subsequent two years. In the worst-case scenario, a district facing insolvency can be taken over by a state administrator.
School board trustees expressed their unhappiness with the “unavoidable” budget cuts. “I’m not happy,” trustee Saprina Rodriguez said, “but it’s a necessary part of our job to do this.”
“None of us want to see cuts,” said trustee Alex Bowlds. “In many cases we know these people: There are names to these cuts.” But, Bowlds continued, voters have entrusted the school board with the job of keeping the district solvent.
LAKE COUNTY JOURNALOS SUE SHERIFF
by Lisa Walters
(Background, from the AVA and Independent Coast Observer, January 23, 2013)
The California Newspapers Publishers Association announced this week that a small Internet-based media outlet is suing Lake County Sheriff Frank Rivero for discrimination.
In a lawsuit filed in Lake County Superior Court, John Jensen and Elizabeth Larson — doing business as the Lake County News (LCN) located online at www.lakeconews.com — allege that Rivero is retaliating against them and their media outlet because he is angry about LCN’s coverage of issues critical of him.
That reporting includes a series of articles in which the journalists uncovered that Rivero was under investigation by Lake County District Attorney Don Anderson for allegedly lying about a 2008 shooting in which he was involved while working as a deputy.
“The Lake County Sheriff's Office has a media distribution list that identifies the email addresses for all media outlets that have asked to receive copies of press releases issued by the Sheriff's office. LCN was removed from this list after publishing articles critical of Sheriff Rivero.
“That means our competitors receive press releases with important public safety information, but LCN does not. And that means that LCN cannot inform its readers of this important information,” Larson said.
LCN's lawsuit also alleges that the Sheriff’s Office discriminates against them by failing to comply with the California Public Records Act (CPRA).
“The CPRA allows journalists and private citizens to gain access to information and documents held by governmental agencies,” said Paul Nicholas Boylan, a Davis-based attorney specializing in open government issues who is representing Jensen and Larson.
“Investigative journalists in California rely on CPRA to look into how government operates and to determine whether or not public officials and employees are behaving in a lawful manner. That's what happened in the City of Bell case from a few years ago. A local journalist used the CPRA to prove widespread corruption. That would not have been possible without the CPRA,” Boylan said.
“This isn't just about us, just about one small Internet media outlet that covers news in a small county in northern California,” Larson said. “This is about something bigger. It is about the freedom of the press and the right of people to be free from government retaliation.
“It isn't right for elected officials to punish media outlets and the people associated with those media outlets when they report on issues and publish statements that the elected officials don't like. There are rules to prevent that from happening, and my husband and I have decided to take the steps necessary to make sure it doesn't happen to us and doesn't happen to anybody else.”
Jensen and Larson say they are considering additional legal actions. “Elizabeth and I have been advised that we have potential actions for damages against the Sheriff and those working with him to violate our constitutional rights,” Jensen said.
“We're waiting to see how all of this works out before we decide what to do next,” Larson concluded.
Boylan said that negotiations are beginning and that he is hopeful that the dispute can be resolved quickly.
“The law is very clear: public officials cannot pick and choose which media outlets they communicate with based on the content of what is being reported. There is no question in my mind that my clients are going to prevail if Sheriff Rivero refuses to treat them fairly and equally and continues to violate the public's right to access governmental information and records.
“The only rational decision, the only option the Sheriff has, is to return my clients to the Sheriff Office’s media distribution list and to provide my clients with access to the public documents and information they have requested,” Boylan said.
Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman told the ICO Tuesday that Rivero’s predecessor, four-term sheriff Rod Mitchell, impressed upon him the importance of being transparent and fair with the media and hence, the public.
“When I first took office, Rod told me that 95% of what we do should be out in the open,” Allman said. “There is only about 5% that we need to keep under wraps, such as ongoing investigations. That’s why we post our daily Media Logs, Booking Logs and press releases on our website for both the media and the public.”
Familiar with the Lake County lawsuit, the Sheriff said he would not penalize a media outlet that criticized him or his department.
Unlike Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas and his staff, Allman and his officers are almost always available to the ICO by phone. He makes it a practice to conduct regular town meetings in the far-flung communities his department covers where he encourages people to offer “constructive criticism” of the Sheriff’s Office. He also frequently appears on local radio call-in shows, which he said are a good place to “dispel rumors that have no basis in fact.” ¥¥
(Courtesy, the Independent Coast Observer.)
Tuesday, March 5, 2013.
By Elizabeth Larson, Lake County News (originally published at lakeconews.com)
LAKEPORT, Calif. — A brief Monday afternoon hearing led to the public disclosure of findings that Lake County's sheriff lied about shooting at a man who held a can of pepper spray in 2008.
That was the opposite result of what Sheriff Frank Rivero was seeking in serving District Attorney Don Anderson with notice of an ex parte application for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, meant to prevent the findings from being released.
Anderson led the investigation into allegations that Rivero, while working as a deputy in February 2008, had shot at a man holding pepper spray, only to give investigators differing accounts of the incident in the days afterward.
Shooting at a person with pepper spray would have been a violation of sheriff's office policy, according to a statement by a sergeant questioned in the District Attorney's Office's investigation into the shooting.
Rivero served Anderson last Friday in an attempt to block him from disclosing his findings either publicly or to criminal defendants, the latter being required under the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Brady v. Maryland.
That case requires that prosecutors disclose to defendants in criminal cases any exculpatory information, including credibility issues with any officers involved in their cases.
In Rivero's filing, which alleged that his civil rights and right to privacy had been violated, it stated, “Plaintiff will suffer irreparable harm if Defendant is not enjoined from releasing, disclosing or discussing any and all aspects of Plaintiff being on the District Attorney's 'Brady List' because, once it is released that Petitioner is a 'Brady' officer, his reputation will be severely injured and his ability to continue to serve as Sheriff or in other law enforcement capacities will be nullified.”
In a hearing which ran just under 20 minutes, retired Butte County Superior Court Judge William Lamb denied Rivero's request for the restraining order but is allowing him to move forward with seeking a preliminary injunction and writ of mandate. Hearings on those matters are not yet on the court schedule.
Rivero was seeking to have his filings kept under seal and on Monday his attorney, Ryan Jones of the Jones and Mayer law firm, told the court they wanted the hearing closed to the public as well.
However, before the hearing Lamb already had approved a media request — filed earlier in the day by Lake County News — seeking to conduct a video recording of the proceedings. Lamb said he was not inclined to close the hearing.
While he said he understood Rivero's position, Lamb said he believed the presence of the media and the public was appropriate. Further, because public figures were involved, and there were issues in question relating to conduct, Lamb said it was just the kind of case that should be made public.
Lamb also denied Rivero's request to seal the complaint and associated documents, including Anderson's final report containing his conclusion that Rivero had lied to investigators.
Based on interviews, analysis and further investigation, “it has to be my finding that Deputy Francisco Rivero did not tell the truth and made material misrepresentations to investigators on February 19th and February 20 of 2008,” Anderson wrote. As a result, when Rivero is a material witness in a case, the District Attorney's Office must disclose the Brady finding.
On Monday Anderson told the court regarding his final report, “In all fairness, I would not object to counsel's motion to keep that portion under seal.”
Lamb said he understood Anderson's viewpoint. “I know you're acting out of an abundance of caution and sense of fairness,” said Lamb. “But it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense to seal that either.”
That's because Lamb found an “overriding interest” in the conduct and manner in which business is conducted in both the District Attorney's Office and the Lake County Sheriff's Office.
Jones argued that the facts underlying Anderson's finding that Rivero lied were based on an internal affairs investigation conducted in the sheriff's office.
However, Lamb said the document was not an internal affairs investigation and contained no personnel records.
“We do not have anything from a personnel file,” said Anderson.
While Jones continued to maintain that the facts came from an internal affairs investigation, Lamb responded, “That's by no means clear from the record.”
Further, Lamb said it was his understanding that Anderson's report came from interviews the District Attorney's Office conducted.
When Jones appeared ready to continue arguing the point, Lamb told him that they didn't need to get into an evidentiary hearing, and that they were not talking about the correctness of Anderson's conclusion.
Anderson explained that it's his department policy that under no circumstances does his staff look at personnel records. Rather, they uses the sheriff's criminal filings and their own investigations.
Lamb then moved on to discuss the temporary restraining order application.
With the documents entered into the court files and the public record, Lamb said it was no longer appropriate to go forward with the restraining order, which he denied without prejudice. He said he was not, however, denying the request for a preliminary injunction, which will be able to move forward to a hearing.
Rivero's filings allege civil rights violations; DA says Brady determination is his responsibility
In the case documents, Rivero argued that other than an informal hearing with Anderson, he was not able to rebut Anderson's conclusion that he was to be placed on the Brady list.
While he acknowledged that Anderson has the duty and burden to seek out Brady material once an officer is placed on the Brady list, Rivero contended that the process by which Anderson arrived at the decision violated Rivero’s due process rights “given the significant property and liberty interests at issue.”
The case also alleged that Anderson's decision was arrived at in a “unilateral, arbitrary, and informal” process.
“Plaintiff is left with a career-ending determination and no recourse,” the complaint stated.
Rivero is seeking declaratory relief, asking for the court to make a finding that Anderson's Brady determination is improper “given the insufficient due process procedures” Rivero alleges are in place. He's also asking for a writ of mandate against the decision so that he would be allowed to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him.
In response, Anderson noted that established case law leaves Brady determinations up to him, with the district attorney having “an absolute duty and constitutional obligation” to disclose to defendants any Brady information or evidence.
“Whether to place a peace officer on the Brady list or disclose a peace officer's credibility issues are at the sole discretion of the District Attorney,” Anderson wrote. “There is no statutory or case authority that conflicts with this discretion.”
Anderson's response to Rivero's complaint explained that in March 2011 Deputy Michael Sobieraj — who had been at the scene of the shooting, working alongside Rivero — contacted the District Attorney's Office to report that Rivero had lied to investigators, which spurred Anderson's inquiry.
In November 2011, Anderson's office informed Rivero that he would have the opportunity to submit written comments, material or objections that would be considered in the Brady decision. Anderson said that, contrary to Rivero's statement, there never was an informal hearing.
After a series of delays that Anderson attributed to a dispute between Rivero and the Board of Supervisors over the hiring of independent counsel, Rivero and his attorney met with Anderson and his staff on Oct. 12, 2012, according to Anderson's filings.
“At this meeting Sheriff Rivero spoke out in his defense,” Anderson said in his response. “He also produced documents and a MAV (mobile audio video) tape that had never been released to the District Attorney's Office prior to that time.”
As a result, a supplemental investigation was conducted, which included reviews of evidence, with some of the relevant witnesses reinterviewed, Anderson's response explained, leading to the investigation's completion and the drafting of the final report. Rivero was notified of the decision on Feb. 19.
Anderson said Rivero can continue in his capacity as sheriff with no detriment, even making arrests and investigating cases. “The detriment is to the District Attorney's Office in prosecuting the case.”
Anderson's Brady policy allows for him and his designees to submit potential Brady evidence to judges for in-camera — or confidential — review “to determine if discovery to the defense is required.”
That's what Senior Deputy District Attorney Art Grothe did last week during motion hearings for three Hells Angels members facing prosecution for a June 2011 fight. Rivero became involved in the case by retrieving surveillance video of the incident from Konocti Vista Casino.
After reviewing Anderson's final report in chambers with Grothe, retired Lake County Superior Court Judge David Herrick ordered that the material be provided to the defense but kept under seal.
Anderson said the defense has requested additional materials which, he believes, must be turned over based on Herrick's ruling.
Anderson's final report on the Rivero investigation is below. It should be noted that some of the language it contains may be offensive.
Email Elizabeth Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter, @ERLarson, or Lake County News, @LakeCoNews. Republished/Reposted with permission.
BYPASS MEANS A SAFER, HEALTHIER LITTLE LAKE VALLEY. By Tony Orth
In the next five years the approved construction project for the US Highway 101 Bypass of Willits will become part of our shared regional infrastructure and is the largest new construction project in Mendocino County this century.
Regionally, seven northern California counties have advocated for over half a century for this project to remove interstate traffic delays from the City of Willits.
It has been the goal of several generations of north counties residents to design this project. In my opinion, we have succeeded in guiding this change to our regional interstate infrastructure and its expected impacts, so as to reduce the unavoidable negative impacts of this approved project, and gain many local benefits for North Main Street of Willits and the sensitive north Little Lake Valley wetlands. As always, not all will agree.
This four-lane interstate improvement program will be built in two stages, as the expense of adding over one mile of viaduct, to improve the original design to better serve the floodway functions of the Little Lake Valley's wetlands, almost doubled the cost to construct this bypass. Also the need to mitigate wetland and other construction impacts has added 2,000 acres of managed open space lands to this project and is an additional required cost.
The Willits area Eel River watershed has secured environmental improvements worth millions of dollars and the purchase of downstream public lands, with monitored mitigation projects required to enhance our local Little Lake Valley and the downstream Outlet Creek ecology.
Over much of the last 25 years I have represented the Brooktrails Township on the Project Development Team (PDT) for the US-101 Bypass of Willits Project. I was a constant advocate for appropriate design features and mitigations to the unavoidable social/economic and environmental impacts of constructing these new federal interstate highway roadway segments.
At the first PDT meetings, routes that had been proposed in the 1950s that placed the new highway through the Westside neighborhoods and/or along the rail corridor in Willits were reviewed and rejected, as “environmental justice” laws and regulations passed in 1964 preclude new segments of Federal highways from impacting low-income residential areas. The US EPA PDT representative requested that we also not allow a new route to transverse polluted lands that occur in some of Willits' urban areas.
Environmental justice issues and the cost to acquire individual homes and businesses, sometimes with eminent domain, must be minimized for a proposed project route to receive the required “Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative” (LEDPA) determination. The approved US-101 Bypass of Willits LEDPA route acquired only three homes and avoids potentially tainted lands.
Many other considerations were brought to bear in rejecting any proposed “in-city routes.” Some people will continue to ignore that this project is a US interstate highway improvement program to service regional users, built to national standards, not some local in-city circulation program to be paid for by federal and state taxpayers.
As the Brooktrails representative I advocated for the continued use of the historic North Main Street gateway for the new US-101 interchange, to serve the existing entrance to Willits. Our Board also requested features to support a future County of Mendocino second access roadway to serve the Sherwood Road Corridor. Many people also lobbied for the improvements to the existing Sherwood Road intersection with Willits Main Street to serve existing and future regional traffic from the Brooktrails Township to the new highway interchange.
The rejected valley US-101/SR-20 interchange would have impacted two square miles of our beautiful central valley area with elevated roadways, and have created a new business route along Highway 20 west, in direct competition with the existing business community located along Willits Main Street. Brooktrails/Sherwood Road regional traffic would be forced to always use local Willits Streets to access this new highway interchange. The EPA representative in the PDT meetings stated it would be unlikely for the EPA administrator to concur to the additional level of impacts such an interchange placement would incur.
The placement of the bypass route at the eastern edge of the City of Willits can contain its urban sprawl to the western side of the valley, and acts as a new barrier to protect the small ranches, farmland and the valley oaks on the eastside of the valley floor from urban development. We locals must now work to design the required improvements to Willits North Main Street and its intersection with Sherwood Road for our benefit once the bypass opens.
History was made here in Willits as the community with its comments modified this project. By also advocating for the extensive mitigation program, we will now be able to enhance the native species populations in the managed lands of the northern wetlands of our Little Lake Valley. We gain 2,000 acres of environmentally sensitive open space where the elk will roam, therefore creating generational stewardship responsibilities.
As many needed fisheries and native species enhancement programs will now be part of this project's legacy, let's get our new Willits campus of the Mendocino Community College, with possibly the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District to create environmental stewardship curricula on these new public lands and area watersheds once the construction is done.
Five years from now, by all of us working for a local revival, the Willits/Brooktrails area with our scenic Little Lake Valley will be a safer and healthier place for ourselves and future generations to enjoy.
(Tony Orth is president of the Brooktrails Township board of directors.)
FOR A REASONED RESPONSE to this argument (and better proof of why the EPA and its minions should not be the basis for local transportation planning would be hard to find) can be found in a video recently posted on-line by Willits City Councilwoman Madge Strong at:
ON THE DAY HUGO CHAVEZ DIES, the top US law enforcement official declared that the US has the right to kill US citizens on US soil without trials and that the banks are too big to indict for fraud. But look at all the numbskulls posting here, so agitated by the “tyrant” Chavez. (On line comment, SF Chronicle)
DESCRIBED ON-LINE as “a bald-face liar” by a Willits Bypass protester, Caltrans' spokesman Phil Frisbie, a bald-faced booby, posted the following reply: “Speaking as a native of Mendocino County, born and raised in Ukiah, from my own home computer, the following is MY opinion, and not that of Caltrans. As a California employee I swore an oath to uphold and protect the California and U.S. Constitutions. I respect the right for people who are scared or angry to use inflammatory language in an effort to express that fear and anger. Those who personally know me, both professionally as a Caltrans employee and in my personal life, know I have unquestionable integrity, and nothing that is said here or to the media will change that. If anyone wishes to ask questions about ME, and not about the Willits Bypass, they can easily find my personal email at my software company, Hawk Software, named after the birds I have loved since my youth that I would watch for hours soaring over the western hills of the Ukiah valley. Phil Frisbie, Jr.”
CALTRANS CONTINUES to take down young redwood trees along 101 from Petaluma to Windsor for road widening and off-ramps. Big Orange says they may take as many as 900 trees along that stretch of 101, which is already a dismal commercial tunnel of backdoor shopping centers from North Marin to Healdsburg. Incredibly, Caltrans has yet to secure funding for the widening and off-ramp projects. Soon, there will be no redwoods on the Redwood Highway.
* * *
“The removal of the redwoods in Petaluma and Windsor sickens me. These trees are the life and breath of Sonoma County. As far as I am concerned, any highway improvements (if that is what you want to call turning our freeways into San Jose or LA) should be be built around the trees.....not cutting them down! Cal Trans should take a look at Santa Barbara and see how trees, flowers and nature can live in harmony with the asphalt jungle that we create. The Redwood Highway no longer exists. It's name is a joke. — Marilyn Davis, Sebastopol”
THE FOLLOWING FOUR bills wending their way through the state legislature may make it easier for counties to adopt Laura's Law:
SB585: Clarifies that the Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63) funds may be used to implement Laura's Law.
SB664: States that counties may implement Laura's Law without a special vote by supervisors.
AB1265: Allows individuals under Laura's Law to receive treatment for up to one year instead of the previous six-month maximum.
AB1367: Almost identical to SB585.
AB1213 WOULD BAN the trapping of bobcats for the sale and export of their pelts, a business that has apparently developed mostly in Modoc and Siskiyou counties. Coats made from bobcat skins are quite popular in China. No reports yet of this appalling practice occurring in bobcat-rich Mendocino County.
DESPITE THE 6.5% stock market rally over the last three months, bellwether billionaires are quietly dumping their American stocks. Warren Buffett; John Paulson, who made a fortune betting on the subprime mortgage meltdown, is clearing out of US stocks too, as is George Soros who recently sold nearly all of his bank stocks, including shares of JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs. Between the three banks, Soros sold more than a million shares. According to moneynews, “It’s very likely that these professional investors are aware of specific research that points toward a massive market correction, as much as 90%. One such person publishing this research is Robert Wiedemer, an esteemed economist and author of the New York Times best-selling book Aftershock. In 2006, Wiedemer and a team of economists accurately predicted the collapse of the US housing market, equity markets, and consumer spending that almost sank the United States. They published their research in the book America’s Bubble Economy…. A columnist at Dow Jones said the book was “one of those rare finds that not only predicted the subprime credit meltdown well in advance, it offered Main Street investors a winning strategy that helped avoid the 40% losses that followed…”
“IN THE INTERVIEW for his latest blockbuster Aftershock, Wiedemer says the 90% drop in the stock market is “a worst-case scenario,” and the host quickly challenged this claim…. It starts with the reckless strategy of the Federal Reserve to print a massive amount of money out of thin air in an attempt to stimulate the economy. ‘These funds haven’t made it into the markets and the economy yet. But it is a mathematical certainty that once the dam breaks, and this money passes through the reserves and hits the markets, inflation will surge,’ said Wiedemer. ‘Once you hit 10% inflation, 10-year Treasury bonds lose about half their value. And by 20%, any value is all but gone. Interest rates will increase dramatically at this point, and that will cause real estate values to collapse. And the stock market will collapse as a consequence of these other problems.”
FROM THIS WEEK’S NORTHCOAST JOURNAL: We want to give readers an update on an incident that happened Feb. 22 in the parking lot of the Humboldt County Library, reported in last week’s paper, especially since it has become the topic of much discussion on the Journal website and in this week’s letters to the editor.
Journal Editor Carrie Peyton Dahlberg was returning books that day when she came upon a crime scene. It was well after a suspect was in custody, cuffed and in the patrol car. Three Eureka PD officers were searching a vehicle and pawing through several large garbage bags of, possibly, pot. There appeared to be no imminent danger. There was no police caution tape and officers were allowing other library patrons to come and go. Carrie pulled out her cellphone camera and went to work. It was then a Eureka police officer told her, “No photos” — which she took as an order.
Carrie, who had worked as a reporter and editor for the Sacramento Bee for 23 years before moving to Humboldt, knows it is perfectly legal to take any picture in any public place — as a reporter or a member of the public — so she began to protest. It escalated from there. She was ordered to step back and she was threatened with arrest for interfering with an investigation. When she requested the names and ranks of the officers to file a complaint, she was initially met with refusal — in the form of silence. Later, she announced she was going to move in close enough to read their name badges. Eventually one officer complied with her request for identification in what can be described as a sarcastic, demeaning and unprofessional manner.
On Wednesday, Feb. 27, Carrie filed a formal complaint. Police were video recording the incident — we’ve requested a copy — and there is an internal police investigation in progress. We should know those results soon and what actions the city will take.
We know what actions we’d like the city to take. Whichever officer told a reporter, “No photos,” needs further training. (“Step back” is OK; “No photos” is not OK.) We’ve requested information on what regular training EPD officers receive on handling photography at a crime scene, and we will have a follow-up story soon.
There’s also the matter of bullying and intimidation. If you don’t get it, pretend you’re 5‘1” and female. You’re facing three large, physically fit, far younger men — all in uniform, with badges, carrying weapons. One of them tells you not to take photos. Another orders you to step back, threatening you with arrest. He refuses to comply when you first ask his name.
Because they are big, strong and are wearing a uniform, and they speak in a commanding, authoritative voice — that doesn’t mean they are right. The officers involved need to be reminded of the law, have Carrie’s complaint placed in their personnel folders and most importantly — get some retraining on how to treat members of the public and the press.
And an apology would be nice. — Judy Hodgson, Publisher, the North Coast Journal.
DEPARTMENT OF EUPHEMISM: The Mendocino County Jail, according to the Fort Bragg Advocate, is now called the Mendocino County Adult Detention Facility in Ukiah.
EDITOR: Oil industry propaganda is smooth and slick, almost viscous in its common sense logic that explains everything from geology to foreign policy. Historically, California is familiar with the style, having invented some of it. We are being visited with the latest model now because hydraulic fracturing technology is making accessible the largest formation of shale oil in the nation, the Monterey Shale formation, two thirds of the national supply,
Much of the industry propaganda is actually produced by the financial industry, citing regiments of their paid scientists to say that hydraulic fracturing, fracking (the injection of millions of gallons of water, chemicals and sand into very deep wells) will not harm groundwater or air quality.
Both are bogus claims and the image of ordinary rural dwellers in fracking zones lighting up their tap water like a road flare has done more to undermine the “scientific” regiments than any number of articles by environmentalists. Although news of a $8.7 million settlement between an oil company and a Kern County farmer whose orchard was destroyed by polluted groundwater was interesting to some of us in the San Joaquin Valley, quite near the San Andreas.
The third problem mentions is usually called “seismic activity.” This leads us to a peculiarity about the Monterey Shale formation. It is a somewhat amorphous blob on many maps, no two quite the same, that stretches from a thin northern beginning below San Francisco to a fat belly in Kern County that sags down into Los Angeles and Orange counties where it peters out heading for the desert. If you know California at all, you will realize that the formation travels through many kinds of landscape. What may not be apparent in the midst of this diversity is the “spine” of the Monterey Shale formation, the geological feature that ties it all together: the San Andreas Fault. In fact, oil geologists agree, is in part responsible for both the reservoir of oil that has been conventionally accessible for a century and the shale formation.
With this in mind, I called the California Alfred E. Alquist Seismic Safety Commission the other day, a division of the California State and Consumers Services Agency. In due time I was routed to an engineer who agreed to listen to my questions and respond. He told me that the seismic activity caused by fracking, if it was caused by fracking at all, was minor; and that “for every benefit there is a price.”
The largest earthquake in Oklahoma history occurred after fracking was established and a “skyrocketing” number of significant quakes are occurring in the Raton Basin region between Colorado and New Mexico.
Yet, capitalism and patriotism, if the two can be distinguished in the US, are driving a speculative boom on the Monterey formation already, with the support of the president and the governor, most of the Legislature, Congress, Occidental Petroleum, which owns the largest chunk of the mineral rights, and the federal Bureau of Land Management, which will hold its second leasing auction later this month.
In a host of problems about fracking, it just seemed to me worth mentioning what is uppermost on my mind as a Californian who has gone through major quakes on that fault since July 21, 1952, when the 7.5 Tehachapi Earthquake woke us all up at 5 a.m. 250 miles north of the epicenter.
And the San Joaquin Valley already has air quality as bad as or worse than Los Angeles has without a fracking boom.
Bill Hatch, Merced