Monday, April 30, 2007


Another moment of local magnificence

Jojo had her (sorry!) camera. More shots here.


An old joke loses its vitality

It used to be said that basketball is boring because the game doesn't start until the 4th quarter and everybody except the Warriors gets into the playoffs.

I haven't followed basketball in years. So what's happening this year?

Update: But can the Warriors close the deal?

And Charles Barclay joins Bill O'Reilly in hating the Bay Area. Except that he seems to be enjoying himself in these photos.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Can a woman be elected president?

Subterranean sexism, warrior image, rugged individualism, yadda, yadda, yadda....

And it doesn't help if the feminists don't like her. Actually, they hate her.


Congratulations to Ed

Ed and I dined together a couple of nights in Ukiah last week (Ed has blogged about the restaurants). He was in trial, I was taking depositions.

He defensed a medical marijuana trial - the first and probably the last in Mendocino County. The jury was out for all of an hour before coming back with a defense verdict.

As to the restaurants, Ed has yet to try an excellent Japanese place. Can't think of the name, but it's on one of the off streets a block or two south of the courthouse. Great atmosphere. Excellent food. I would probably rate it number one, although both Patrona's and the Thai place on the main drag rate closely.

At Patrona's I strongly recommend the Gorgonzola, walnuts, and fig pizza. And Ed is right about the wine choices.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Burgess mother to pursue wrongful death damages from Eureka

The claim arises from the police killing of Christopher Burgess last summer. The Times Standard has the story. The claim was filed just before the six-month deadline for personal injury claims against a government entity. She is represented by David Dibble, a local attorney who is no lightweight.

These claims are routinely rejected. In fact, in my opinion the whole tort claims act is a bit of a fraud. Ostensibly it's to allow government entities to attempt to settle the matter out of court. However, in my 12 years of practice I've filed probably about 50 of them and only once has an entity attempted to settle the matter prior to my filing a complaint. It's really about shortening the statute of limitations for government entities and catching indecisive claimants unaware.

Once the government rejects the claim formally, the claimant has six months to file a lawsuit. I should mention that six months is not always adequate time to investigate a matter and sometimes we attorneys simply file the claim in order to buy another six months. It doesn't necessarily mean that a lawsuit will be filed. The fact that it was filed at the last minute suggests the possibility that Ms. Burgess and her attorney have not yet decided whether to file. These cases are very tough, and you need to have your ducks lined up pretty well before tossing it into "delay-reduction" hastened discovery processes.

The officer who killed Burgess has been cleared by all of the appropriate agencies in terms of criminal charges, including Gallegos' office. But the civil court standard of proof is also considerably lower than the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard which governs criminal cases.


About that planet!

The one that may be habitable. Well, here's what it may look like on the planet's surface! The artist is Karen Wehrstein.

The following description was posted on Daily Kos by a blogger named "Darksyde."
In this artist’s conception courtesy of our own Karen Wehrstein (Much greater resolution here) the sun would never move as seen from the surface of a tidally locked world, but the sky is an ever-changing show greater than any on earth. Observational data and theoretical models suggest that stars like Gliese 581 might have a dynamic, granular surface and sport enormous starspots. It could be engulfed in perpetual solar storms, seen here as faint plasma arcs and visible surface flares. The star is shown as it might appear above a hypothetical waterworld’s horizon from just sunward of the terminator, distorted and dimmed through a blanket of CO2 five times thicker than our own atmosphere. With less than 7 million miles separating star and planet, Gliese’s solar wind easily plows through the planet’s (presumed) weak magnetic field and slams into the upper atmosphere to produce brilliant displays. Shimmering cascades of what on earth might be called colorful sprites, blue jets, and dazzling aurora mingle so completely with high, wispy clouds as to be virtually indistinguishable. Fat cumulous clouds hang low over the water eerily backlit by the brooding red-dwarf. One lone iceberg represents the assumed many which calve off from the great unseen ice-sheet dominating the planet’s dark side and drift slowly to their eventual destruction on global currents through a deep, planetary ocean of carbonated water. High overhead the barest hint of shorter wavelengths are scattered by the thick air, coloring the zenith a deep twilight blue. Could life evolve in such an alien environment?
Well, if there is a god or "intelligent design," then how could such beauty be wasted on the absence of life? And why is the red dwarf "brooding?" If nobody's there, maybe it can be developed for vacation rental space.

Insert Arkley jokes ___________________________.


Pet food recall central

All you need to know.

Friday, April 27, 2007


Why can't the governor explain his opposition to high speed rail?

The SF Bay Guardian's Stephen T. Jones asks the question.
Why can’t Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger or his proxies explain their opposition to high-speed rail? They try, as they must. After all, this is a green project lauded across the ideological spectrum and around the world for its potential to prevent global warming, dirty air, and clogged freeways and airports.

But all the answers Arnold’s people give are illogical, unresponsive, or contradicted by the experts...

As I worked on my recent article on the topic, it was maddening to try to get a straight answer out of David Crane (the San Francisco venture capitalist that Schwarzenegger appointed to the CHSRA board) or the governor’s flacks.
It is of course a rhetorical question.

The photo is from the SFBG blog post linked above.


Media responses to PL decision

Heraldo has put together some of the links to local media reaction to the venue ruling in PL's bankruptcy.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Ty Anderson, RIP

He passed away this morning at the age of 51. He had been struggling with stage 4 cancer for some time. I didn't know him all that well, but I worked with him a few times and heard his music on occasion. I worked with his wife Cher during my time on the CLMP board and he often attended events where I had some terrific political conversations with him. He is survived by Cher and a son (Trevor) and daughter (Asia).

Please feel free to post thoughts. If anybody has a photograph for me to post please send it.

Kimba took these photos in the early years of ROTR and has posted these photos over at the ROTR chat site. In the one below he's playing with Rod Deal.

Below is a portrait by Georgia Long. The painting has been given to Cher. Thanks to Georgia for sending this to me this morning! You can enlarge all of these images by clicking on them.

The photo below was taken by Kimba. Ty's with his wife and daughter. According to Kimba, his family was with him when he passed away in his home.

The photo below was posted on the ROTR chat site by a poster named "glass napkins." The photo is from "The Clue."


Injunction denied

Bob has all the details and responses.

Now what?

Addendum: Tom Dimmick has filed a summary adjudication motion. This morning's media coverage for your convenience:

Times Standard

Eureka Reporter

Second Addendum: Apparently the summary judgment code section link doesn't work on it's own. I've linked to the Cal government search page. Plug in "summary judgment" in the Code of Civil Procedure section and select section 437(c).

Correction: If I'd read the ER article I would have known that it was Tom Dimmick who filed the summary adjudication motion. I apologize for the error.

Third Addendum: A Times-Standard article on the upcoming planning commission meeting, containing a typo some may find mildly amusing. I wonder if I'll get another missive from attorneys for linking to the article.


Debate topic for the day

Quote: "It is better for justice that one innocent man go free than 10 guilty murderers be convicted."

Agree or disagree? Why?

Addendum: Okay, the first commenter has a point. Let me ask it his/her way. "Is it better that 10 guilty men go free than one innocent man be convicted?"

But a french fry tastes the same way, no matter which way you turn it. That's from the old Sidney Poitier movie. Can't remember the title. I'm sure I messed up that quote as well.



Check out all these letters about the "Humboldt Honey!"

Not to resort to another shameful colloquialization (note to grammar cops - that's a joke) but get a grip!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Vast left wing conspiracy to lynch the Loofa Man

Bill O'Reilly's feeling a bit persecuted. He provides a diagram, but doesn't elaborate. The arrows make it all real.

The latest from Media Matters:
As Media Matters documented, during an appearance on the Irish talk show The Late Late Show on April 13, host Pat Kenny asked O'Reilly whether he had referred to the poor as "irresponsible and lazy" and the Iraqi people as "prehistoric." When Kenny said he found that information on a "website," O'Reilly responded by calling Media Matters "an assassination website" that frequently takes him "out of context." However, Media Matters provided full documentation of O'Reilly's references to the poor as "irresponsible and lazy" and the Iraqi people as "prehistoric." O'Reilly has previously attacked Media Matters as being "smear merchants," "assassins," and "the most vile, despicable human beings in the country," among other things, despite claiming not to "do personal attacks here."
I used to enjoy O'Reilly's show. But he seems to be losing it, and doesn't even seem to be enjoying himself anymore.

O'Reilly's tin foil hat flow-chart is taken from the Media Matters site linked above.


So where is the KMUD pledge drive at?

They were a bit behind when I left and they're supposed to wrap up on Friday. I will be back to pitch tomorrow night. I certainly hope that KMUD isn't going to be collateral damage from other conflicts.

KMUD has spruced up its website recently. It looks like some of the programming has been archived and is available to registered users.


Nail that carpool lane cheater to the wall!

Actually, I think this is a good idea, especially since it won't lead to any actual sanctions. It is amazing at how many people flaunt the law despite the steep fine. I have seen people pulled over in Marin County, but some of them probably figure that they're only going to be caught once a year and therefor they're paying use fee of about a dollar a day which is better than public transportation and faster.

The snitch aspect bothers me. When we travelled through Seattle a few years back we thought about turning this one woman in as the number is provided on signs along the freeway. But I was haunted by the old saying "Mama don't like tattletales." We didn't call. Was I a bad citizen? There's just something creepy in an Orwellian way for the state to call upon citizens to look for transgressors - and the image from the Movie Fahrenheit 451 where everyone leaves their homes on instruction to look stand on the sidewalk and look for the fugitive. While no sanctions are involved, the "reminder" is the exercise of intimidation suggesting a Big Brother ("we are watching you"). Even a bluff hand by the state carries weight as apparently evidenced by the Washington stats cited in the article.

Now on the other hand, I always liked the comedian Gallagher's suggestion. When somebody cuts you off you have one of those plunger dart guns and you stick one to the side of the car. The Highway Patrol officer drives by and sees 4 or 5 of those darts on his car and they pull him over and give him a ticket for being an asshole.

I'm all for the carpool lanes by the way, and the steep fines. I'm sorry if you're too "busy" translate lazy and self-important) to organize a pool. Really I am.


Tom's response

I'm encouraged by the lack of responses here and at Bob's blog. I'm hopeful that it means most people are actually taking the time to absorb all of the information before shooting off their mouths. Almost restores my faith in human nature.

Anyway, Tom posted what follows in the thread below. One topic of constructive discussion would be whether the $240 grand per year "guarantee" he offers is really a guarantee, and if not how could it be constructed as such in light of the stated concerns that there are no guarantees. Will it be paid up front each year, or after the concert? I had heard that the amounts were going to fluctuate according to tickets sold. Is the last offer a straight-up sum for each year?

Apparently neither side is optimistic about the festival's future.

Dimmick Ranch Press Release
April 24, 2007

In fulfilling the Dimmick Ranch commitment to this community, we have been in active settlement talks with the Mateel Community Center as evidenced by the documents posted to the MCC Web site and those that follow. In the interest of transparency, we have included the following to ensure the public a near complete view of negotiations. We have excluded a “100-Year Deal” offer presented by Boots Hughston and Taunya Staupp over Easter weekend as the MCC has stated that the third-party negotiations are not legitimate offers, despite the board’s approval of Boots’ negotiation attempts. These details were not made available previously in the interest of advancing the discussion; however, at this point, the parties are at an impasse.

Our goal in these proposals, as we have maintained since last fall, is to produce a successful event on Dimmick Ranch that supports our community and makes public safety a priority. This is why I originally entered into the contract for public use of the Ranch and included “Item 10” in the original lease agreement that assures People Productions will be the event producer for the term of the lease. I was banking on 23 years of production history and the capable local groups and individuals that have made the annual reggae festival happen.

Based on these failed negotiations and aggressive tactics, we question the MCC’s goal and call on the community to question its goal, as well.

Prior to drafting the formal proposals you see here and in the interest of avoiding a public spectacle, I suggested to the MCC board that I was willing to negotiate a truce. This included leaving the Reggae on the River name untouched (to avoid our current dispute over its value), substantial payments to MCC, provisions for reimbursing the MCC for the infrastructure improvements and ending the Dimmick Ranch’s relationship with the MCC. These early attempts were rejected.

The last offer made to the MCC by Dimmick Ranch includes:

· $342,000 to 2B1 for the 2007 license of the trademark in "Reggae on the River" name, and

· A guarantee of $240,000 per year (nearly $2 million total) to the MCC for the remaining eight years of the conditional use permit (CUP).

This offer wasn't accepted either, as the MCC has acknowledged. The counter proposals put forth by the board are exorbitantly expensive and filled with aggressive controls and constraints on the use of my property, not just for the term of the lease, but forever. All seems aimed at ensuring the MCC a steady income stream from the ROTR name in perpetuity – an unreasonable goal given that no trade name has infinite value, and I have been willing to preserve the event for the community under the Reggae Rising name. In fact, two other annual music festivals in the U.S are already using the Reggae on the River name. The MCC has also refused, despite repeated requests that might help to inform our offers, to make the details of its agreement with 2B1 available for review.

With the launch of Reggae Rising in February, we paved the way toward fulfilling our goal. In developing the Web site, talking with the local non-profits and coordinators and securing top-notch talent, we’re moving forward to put on the best reggae festival and community fundraiser yet.

We are truly disappointed that we’ve been unable to resolve our differences quickly and quietly.

Very sincerely,

Tom Dimmick

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Take me to your leader

The planet is about 20 light years away, practically in our back yard. It's a little larger than ours. It's orbiting a red dwarf, but it's much closer to its star than we (a "year" to any residents would be 13 days - seasons?). The average temperature is freezing to just above body temperature. There's lots of water - oceans and all.

Let's see. The signal for my first radio show has traveled about 1/3 the distance. In another 13 years they'll hear a fine analysis of the Second Amendment, along with Ron Davidson's comments about lesbians wearing offensive t-shirts in local restaurants and the fact that the 1974 edition of Webster's Dictionary defined homosexuality as a "perversion" but was rewritten to accomodate political correctness.

However, if they were listening they heard my first ever call-in to a radio show well over 20 years ago Phylis Schlaefly told me that she'd never met a feminist who was offended by pornography.

Do you think the aliens will support Reggae on the River or Reggae Rising?

There are theological questions to be addressed. If there is life of intelligence comparable to or in excess of humans, do they have souls? And if so, are they in need of salvation? The first question we should ask them - have you taken Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?

The graphic is from the SF Chronicle, linked above.


Mateel Press Release

I didn't see this at Bob's site. I received it via e-mail earlier tonight.


[April 24, 2007. Redway, CA]. There has been a call for the Mateel Community Center (MCC) to be more forthcoming with details of the negotiations with Tom Dimmick over the future of Reggae on the RiverTM (ROTR). We have been as open as possible without disrupting the flow of our settlement talks. In the interests of dispelling rumors and, more importantly, keeping the community informed, we have posted Tom Dimmick's written offers made outside of mediation on the Mateel website and provide here a brief summary of the complex offer on the table at this time.

The MCC's Board of Directors does not want to sell ROTR. We would prefer that Tom Dimmick honor our lease and allow 2B1 Multimedia to produce the show and for the community to have an event this year. 2B1 Multimedia owns the license to produce Reggae on the RiverTM in 2007. Any deal that we make to sell ROTR will be subject to approval by the membership.

On the table are two offers to Dimmick. One is in the form of a lump sum payment by Tom Dimmick for the trademark, the right to produce the music festival, and the infrastructure. The alternative is a sale of the same things with payment on a yearly basis as long as he continues to produce the event. The counterproposal put forth by Tom Dimmick indicates he is not interested in endowing the Mateel up front, but instead would like the Mateel to still share the risk of ROTR being produced every year by making yearly payments.

The MCC has realized and expected to realize $250,000 annually from ROTR for the next nine years and that the Mateel paid for and owns the infrastructure that exists on Dimmick's property. In Mr. Dimmick's published letter to the community, he estimates this value to be around $300,000. Standard accounting practices require the inclusion of any labor to the construction of a long-term asset. The MCC's Board of Directors is confident that the actual cost of the infrastructure is much higher and have initiated an appraisal. Along with the value of the infrastructure, the Dimmick Ranch also is holding onto a lease payment of $33,333 made in October 2006 towards payment of the lease for 2007, even though Tom Dimmick has stated that there to be no valid lease in place between the MCC and himself.

In short, the Dimmick Ranch is holding on to community funds of the MCC, while we are forced to conduct fundraisers to raise money so events like the high school prom that happened last weekend could go on.


The Mateel Community Center fully recognizes the importance to the broader community of nonprofits needing to have the event this year. We have asked, and will continue to ask for, a guarantee that the same non-profit vendors that attended ROTR last year would be offered the opportunity for the remainder of the present lease term. We included a non-competition clause that prohibits Dimmick from producing any event on his property during the first week of June so as not to conflict with the Summer Arts Fair. We've also asked that they allow all coordinators who worked the 2006 event to work on the 2007 show.

Thus, our initial offer to the Dimmick Ranch or through a company in which he has the majority ownership is that he shall purchase the right to produce Reggae on the River and the ROTR trademark for $2.9 million (the lump sum option). Additionally, Dimmick would pay us for the professionally appraised value of the trademark.

The equipment used to produce ROTR belongs to the organization whose funds were used to purchase it unless that entity has been reimbursed. Any equipment (canopies, stoves, refrigerators, furniture, etc.) that Tom Dimmick needs to produce ROTR in the future will be made available to him either by sale or rental. The MCC would retain the right to reproduce and sell all ROTR trademark materials including graphics and posters that pertain to ROTR events prior to the 2007 event. The MCC will receive back all its original art and graphic archives from past ROTR events.

The People Productions lawsuits would be resolved by an agreement to complete an accounting of the 2006 event; an agreement by People Productions to provide all documents necessary to perform an audit of any of the prior events in case any audits are conducted by government agencies; and an agreement to indemnify the MCC for any damages including additional taxes and/or penalties the MCC is ordered to pay by any government agencies resulting from the failure of People Productions toproduce documentary support for such an audit.

2B1 Multimedia will assign its license to Tom Dimmick for the payment of $342,000. 2B1 Multimedia will have shared video production rights to ROR through a separate agreement with Tom Dimmick.

Performing artists booked by 2B1 for 2007 festival will be transferred/renewed to Tom Dimmick. 2B1 ticket sales account will be transferred to Tom Dimmick in a manner to avoid fees/charges from ticket sales agency.

We've also offered Tom Dimmick an alternative for him to purchase the ROTR trademark with the right to produce ROTR through a production company formed and owned by himself. The payments would be $240,000.00 per year or $20.00 per ticket, whichever is greater, with the ticket sales to be handled by an agreed-upon ticket agency. Tom Dimmick would give assurances of the production of the event by a certain date every year which will then
obligate him to make the minimum payment to MCC for that year. If those assurances are not provided, the MCC would have the option to repurchase the ROTR trademark for $1.00 and produce the event itself. MCC would have an option to lease Tom Dimmick's property for a minimum of five years in the event that the festival reverts to the MCC.

The infrastructure that presently belongs to the MCC on the Dimmick property would be purchased by Tom Dimmick at its appraised value and paid over the remaining term of the existing lease. Additional terms would be the same as the alternative offer above.


In response, Tom Dimmick has offered $200,000 per year, starting in 2008. Tom Dimmick could choose at any time not to do the festival, leaving it to MCC, who would have a hard time scrambling to find a producer. If we could not find one, the MCC would get nothing.

Tom Dimmick would pay $320,000 over nine years for our infrastructure and equipment.

For this year, Tom Dimmick would purchase 2b1 Multimedia license from for the $342,000 that he has spent so far. The MCC would have to pay off any artists booked that People Productions doesn't want in their show.

Tom Dimmick requests all of 2b1’s to-date ticket sales for ROTR, which to our knowledge have far outstripped the sales of tickets to Reggae Rising.

Tom Dimmick's offer limits our access to the disputed ROTR books for the 2005 and 2006 concerts.


Negotiations are not over. Above we presented the initial exchange of offers. But we are still far apart. The Board of the MCC remain committed to protect the non-profit community center's assets for future generations. Whether or not there will be a Reggae on the RiverTM this year in 2007 or not remains Mr. Dimmick's choice.


Reggae negotiation details coming out

Bob has posted some of the documents, and others may be found at the Mateel website.

From my brief perusal it appears that supporters of both sides have been spreading misinformation, most likely inadvertently. More later. Maybe.

Meanwhile, have at it.

Any word from the Court?


Topical Tuesday for those like me who are bored with the Reggae fight

Captain America, wearing a burrito in his pants, tried to impress women in a bar. He was arrested allegedly after groping one of them. He also attempted to flush a bag of marijuana.

Of course, the Captain has been a druggee from the beginning.


A young writer named Vendella Vita has received the Kate Chopin award for her novel, "Let the Northern Lights Erase your Name."

The purpose of the award is to "honor a fictional work that portrays a female character who, like Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin's 'The Awakening,' attempts to withstand the disapproval of her society and to forge a path that is different from the one that is predetermined for her."

I hope that sentence isn't an example of the writing they reward.


The first Republican presidential contenders' debate will take place next week in Simi Valley - probably indicative of the end of their attempts to market to non-white voters. Despite all the MSM hype, they've actually lost ground with black voters. For some reason very few black voters have ever heard of Ward Connerly or Thomas Sowell.


The number of convicts serving long sentences or facing death exonerated by DNA evidence will shortly reach 200. Why has it taken this long, and why isn't there currently a policy to check the DNA for every conviction across the country where it's available and the convict willing?


The power of myth exposed in what may go down in history as the war fought on lies; the Tillman/Lynch hearings began today. I'm not sure where they're supposed to go. Will someone be disciplined?

I just heard some talking head analysis from an idiot who blames Jessica Lynch for the lie, saying that her story has "evolved." But I seem to remember that she was protesting the hype early on, and was less-than-enthused by the made-for-TV movie about her.

Are the hearings justified, or do liberals just hate heroes?


Glimpses into Michael Moore's new film "Sicko"

Moore's people are keeping the wraps on the content of Sicko. You won't find much on his home site. Alternet has a few details:
Sicko, which will be premiering at the Cannes Film Festival in May, is a comic broadside against the state of American health care, including the mental health system. The film targets drug companies and the HMOS in the richest country in the world -- where the most money is spent on health care, but where the U.S. ranks 21st in life expectancy among the 30 most developed nations, obviously in part due to the fact that 47 million people are without health insurance.


...between 2001 and 2005 the number of people without health insurance rose 16.6 percent. The average health insurance premiums for a family of four are $10,880, which exceeds the annual gross income of $10,712 for a full-time, minimum-wage worker. In addition, the lack of insurance causes 18,000 excess deaths a year while people without health insurance have 25 percent higher mortality rates. Fifty-nine percent of uninsured people with chronic conditions such as asthma or diabetes skip medicine or go without care.


One of the film's segments, an increasingly controversial boat trip to Cuba, exploded onto the pages of The New York Post, the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid, when at least one 9/11 cleanup worker who had been invited to participate in a trip to Cuba for Moore's Sicko went to the press.

The boat trip, according to sources who spoke to both the NY Post and The Daily News, took ailing rescue workers to Cuba for health treatment for respiratory ailments which they suffer as a result of working at Ground Zero, and for which a number of the workers have no health insurance. The purpose of the trip, according to some, was to show that the free health care in Cuba is superior to the health care system in the U.S. Those invited on the trip, as described by Janon Fisher in the Post, were told the "Cuban doctors had developed new techniques for treating lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses," and that health care in Cuba was free.

To be honest, while I find Moore's films extremely entertaining, I do wish more of his fans would approach his material with a more critical eye. While the right wing slams of his films often border on hysteria and are themselves manipulative in the use of strawmen, Moore has a gift for manipulating emotions at the expense of critical thinking. Orwell said "all propaganda is lies, even when it's the truth." A few years ago in reference to Fahrenheit 911, Kevin Mattson had this to say in a Dissent piece:
What a work of entertainment does best is confirm peoples' preexisting political values-not encourage self-examination or rethinking. You could call it the Internetting of American politics, the breaking up of a mass audience into subcultures and opinionated enclaves. Political values are like lifestyles today, and you seek out affirmation rather than criticism or questioning. It's not really clear that Moore can effectively reach swing voters or those uncertain about what they believe. He posts joyful accounts on his Web site about enraptured audiences watching his movie. Shouldn't he wish for anger and debate in the aisles?

But what is undisputed is his unique gift for street theater and his ability to weave brilliant entertainment with unwilling subjects. And unlike Borat the bully, Moore's targets are invariably powerful. I look forward to this one.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Occasionally I'm reminded of why I live around here

Sometimes just a slight shift of the scenery takes me out of the routine and renews my appreciation of the beauty of this place. Those "mystical moments" have been far and few lately as I haven't really been out on the trails, and probably won't be until my kids are just a little bigger.

Today I visited a client's property in the hills to the east of Laytonville. He's got an easement dispute with a neighbor which is of no relevance to this post. About 30 years ago he lucked into one of the most breathtaking pieces of property in terms of its views. When you stand on the ridge at the property's entrance and look to the east you can see Black Rock Mountain, which has very little vegetation because it's a lava formation, the last vestige of a volcano that once towered over what is now Laytonville. My client tells me that at the eastern foot is one of the largest obsidian deposits in California. Looking east but to the south of Black Rock you look over Covelo Valley and beyond to the Yola Bolis which remain snow-capped at the moment.

Looking to the west we had a strong wind in our faces. The wind can be much stronger, which is why he didn't build on the ridge. To the northwest you can see the King Range. To the southwest you can see the ocean through a valley when the fog is absent.

I did take photos for litigation purposes, but they wouldn't do the moment justice. Looking at that big chunk of lava and thinking about its duration it kind of reminds me of the relative insignificance of everything we do. The easement fight won't even register as a blip of memory ultimately even if there is something called the "collective unconscious." The lava chunk is a dying remnant of an ancient age, probably on it's last lap on the cosmic scale, but it'll probably survive the human race unless something of short term precious value is discovered inside it.

Meanwhile, it's Monday, April 23, in the 2007th year of our Lord. I'm in Ukiah. Probably just as much majesty here in its own right, but it's well camouflaged. I have to start thinking about tomorrow's depositions.


Imagine my horror!

After I finished up with court this morning I went out for breakfast - a place called "Maples" a couple of blocks from the court house here in Ukiah. As I settled in with my coffee and opened the paper I was treated to a serenade from the flat screen on the wall near me. The View was on and Barbara Walters, Rosy O'Donnel, and two women I don't know were lined along side a grand piano with an aging Neil Sedaka on the playing end. After a brief conversation about all of his kids and grandkids no doubt calculated to reassure us of his heterosexuality I was treated to a chorus of all five of them singing Love Will Keep Us Together.

How do I write about this without letting out my inner condescending smug liberal elitist? Too late I think. I'm just trying to imagine a scenario that could be more classically insipid. Maybe a Partridge Family reunion joined with Peter Frampton to sing Muskrat Love and Billy Don't be a Hero.

So now I'm in my hotel room enjoying WiFi, at my peril apparently. I have to meet clients in Laytonville at three o'clock. Later.

Meanwhile feel free to comment on Sheryl Crow's flirtations with Karl Rove, as long as we're blending pop culture with social commentary.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


French election

Looks like the socialist and the conservative will be in a run-off, the "Clintonian centrist" coming in a distant third.

From Daily Kos:

Update [2007-4-22 12:41:58 by Jerome a Paris]: Very first estimate:
Sarkozy: 25-29%
Royal 25-26%
Bayrou 16-20%
Le Pen 13-18%

Update [2007-4-22 12:47:15 by Jerome a Paris]: Various estimates all put Sarkozy and Royal well ahead (both in the 25-27% range). Thus, there would seem to be uncertainy as to who is first (and as to who is third between Bayrou and Le Pen), but none that the runoff will be Royal-Sarkozy.

It seems to me that Sarkozy (the conservative) goes in with an advantage, not because of the slim lead, but because I'd expect him to get the bigger portion of Bayrou's votes, and nearly all of the nutcases voting for Le Pen who bother to vote in the run-off.

The post also contains the following:

See Why the French election matters to all progressives for background and context. See Laurent Guerby's earlier thread for information on how voting went throughout the day.

The irony I see in French politics is that American right-wing presidents have gotten along with France's socialists much more easily than their conservatives. Mitterand for example went along with most of the Reagan/Bush military initiatives, whereas Chirac has bucked Bush, Jr. from the beginning.


Not-so-dark horse in the wings?

Apparently, Al Gore has a team.

"Dark Horse" from Wikipedia:
A dark horse candidate is one who is nominated unexpectedly, without previously having been discussed or considered as a likely choice. Often a dark horse is selected as a compromise when other, more prominent candidates' factions cannot come to an agreement. This metaphoric expression originally alluded to an unknown horse winning a race and was so used in a novel by Benjamin Disraeli (The Young Duke, 1831).

The expression was soon applied to political candidates, among the first of whom was James Knox Polk. He won the 1844 Democratic presidential nomination over Martin Van Buren on the eighth ballot and went on to win the election.

Other famous dark horse candidates for the US Presidency include:

More recently, some have described Bill Clinton as a dark horse, after he overcame a crowded field of Democratic hopefuls to win the 1992 presidential election. The same has been said with regard to Jimmy Carter and the 1976 presidential election.

I mean, you'd think that 8 months before the first caucus you wouldn't have to use the term. But this ain't 1976, although there may be some apt comparisons before we're through. And that was before you had to raise 10 mil for a war chest before you even declared to have a chance.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Am I not properly indoctrinating my child?

He's 5 years old. Via Netflix my wife and I have viewed the entire West Wing series, having missed much of it when it was on for the lack of cable. Sometimes, my son is around when it's on and even watches it a little bit although he will tell you "it's mostly for grown-ups. With the opening theme music of each show is a brief montage incorporating photos of the White House and American flag.

So this morning at HSU he noticed the flags at half-mast and identified it as "the flag on west wing, the one with the stripes and stars."

I expect I'm going to catch flack for this. Tom Hanson is going to be on my show for the last time in a while (he's moving to Michigan) in May. I invited him to choose a topic. One theme he's considering is "anti-Americanism on the left." Maybe we can start with my apparently a-patriotic omissions.

The opening screen shot comes from this Wikipedia page.


Addendum: I have to add an anecdote. In the late 1980s I moved to rural Washington State, just outside of Bellingham. I worked the various Whatcom County districts as a substitute teacher. Some of my most interesting experiences came when working in the town of Lynden, a very conservative town known for latter day blue laws filled with Dutch Reformed fundamentalists (the local joke was that the reason the Netherlands was so liberal was that all the right wingers moved to South Africa and Lynden).

Anyway, on my very first day at the high school I had a little bit of a rude awakening that I had some serious cultural bridges to negotiate. It began in the morning as the bell rang and all of the students stood for the pledge which I was supposed to lead. Having not said the pledge since I was in the 7th grade I had a brain freeze. It took me a minute to remember how it started.

Later I was trying to help kids learn the biological classifications (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species) and suggested "Kings play chess on fine grain sand" as well as "King Phillips came over for good sex." The second one resulted in a moment of silence and a male voice from the back half-whispered "pervert."

My inner Lost in Space Robot started chanting "Danger Will Robinson" and I was very careful from then on, although I learned later that the younger generation was breaking away from the old ways - for better and worse. But that's a story for another thread.


Apparently Cho wasn't supposed to have guns

From the SF Chroncle:

Federal law prohibits anyone who has been "adjudicated as a mental defective," as well as those who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility, from purchasing a gun.

A special justice's order in late 2005 that directed Cho to seek outpatient treatment and declared him to be mentally ill and an imminent danger to himself fits the federal criteria and should have immediately disqualified him, said Richard Bonnie, chairman of the Virginia Supreme Court's Commission on Mental Health Law Reform.

A spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also said that if found mentally defective by a court, Cho should have been denied a gun.

5 day waiting periods anybody? That gun store owner who said he was sad that the guns came from his shop? Maybe he ought to face charges?

Friday, April 20, 2007


Breaking News: Judge keeps PALCO bankruptcy case in Texas

All I could find was the PALCO statement.

I suspect that it'll be appealed.

Addendum: Apparently the judge considered sanctions for the moving parties! PALCO chose its forum well.


Faulder fired

Mendo D.A. elect Meredith Lintott fired her election opponent Keith Faulder a few days after taking office. She insists that there won't be many more firings, but as we know in Humboldt County, when there is a significant change in the philosophy of the office you tend to lose the old guard. From the Press Democrat:
As a result of the immediate dismissal, a murder case scheduled for Monday may be rescheduled, Lintott said.

Caleb Flitcroft was set to go on trial for allegedly shooting and killing his girlfriend, Brittney Syfert, in a fit of jealousy during her birthday party in Potter Valley in 2005.

Faulder has prosecuted the lion's share of the office's more serious homicide cases during his eight-year tenure with the office.

"I'm sorry to see him go," Ukiah Police Sgt. John McCutcheon said. "He's the most skilled attorney in that office."
Reverse the politics and it's deja vu all over again.

I'm also sorry to see Faulder go, but as with Gallegos, Ms. Lintott has the right to reshape the office to her vision, even if it means some short term difficulties. There are distinct philosophies about the office. It's not merely a bureaucratic position. Probably Gallegos' mistake was to wait too long to clean house. Lintott seems to have learned from his mistakes.



4/20 is celebrated by the marijuana using folk, because of the false legend that there are 420 active substances in the drug. As it happens, there are only about 315 (over a hundred of which are confirmed carcinogens, but I'll let it rest).

April 20 is also Adolf Hitler's birthday. Consequently, it is also the date of events like Columbine and the Oklahoma City bombing.

On the upside, all of these people were born on this day.

Although the date is disputed, it is also believed by some to be the birth date of the Prophet Muhammed.

Of the most significance, it is my birthday. And apparently Stephen Colbert and I were born within hours of each other.


Whistleblower suit against Maxxam/PALCO

Filed by the former CDF head Richard Wilson (if you remember he made some statements on behalf of Gallegos in the home stretch of the recall campaign), the suit. Heraldo has the links.

From the SF Chronicle:
Pacific Lumber also offered a plan that would allow it to cut a certain amount of lumber each year without degrading the quality of its forests. But, the suit alleges, that plan relied on an intentionally flawed computer model that exaggerated the rate at which the company's forests would be regenerated after cutting.

In the whistle-blower lawsuit, Wilson and Maranto, the state officer in charge of sustainable forestry, say they concluded last year that there was a problem in the computer model.

"Defendant's deceptive growth and yield model made its sustained yield plan false,'' the lawsuit says.

"Had defendants fully disclosed the nature of their ... computer simulations," the lawsuit says, "the California Department of Forestry would not have approved the sustained yield plan, and defendants would not have received that $213.7 million in state funds."

Former Rep. Pete McCloskey, whose Redwood City law firm is part of the plaintiffs' legal team, called the alleged deception "an elaborate fraudulent scheme fueled by corporate greed."

Wilson and Maranto filed the suit under California's false claims law, which allows people who allege that state or local governments have been defrauded to file suit. Such suits are sealed while the state attorney general examines them.

The suit was unsealed on Monday.

The bankruptcy stay may not apply to this suit as Maxxam and Charles Hurwitz are named as defendants. I'm not sure how it works from here. I imagine PALCO will make a motion.

Addendum: The story made Forbes.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Impeachment Summer

Well, tactically speaking I don't support the push for impeachment, however, the event does look interesting.

IMPEACHMENT SUMMER BEGINS RIGHT WITH COL. ANN WRIGHT Retired Army Colonel Ann Wright speaks on Impeachment, the Law and the Iraq War on Sunday May 6 at the Vet's Hall in Garberville. Her presentation will begin at 7 PM after a potluck meal at 6 PM. Ann Wright, after 35 years of military and diplomatic service, resigned in March 2003 in protest of Bush's war. The decision to wage war in Iraq, she says, "violated international and domestic law and is an impeachable offense." The March 2007 Greenfuse printed her testimony to the Washington State Senate on the necessity of impeaching Bush and Cheney.

Col. Wright is an outspoken anti-war activist who has appeared often on Democracy Now! She has been featured in the Washington Post magazine, Ms. magazine, Foreign Service Journal and the film "Uncovered: The Truth About the Iraq War." She also spent 26 days in the ditches at Camp Casey with Cindy Sheehan and has been arrested numerous times since then protesting the war. Most recently she was carried out of Rep. John Conyers committee because she has most certainly not taken impeachment "off the table."

Col.Wright has seen diplomatic service in 9 countries, 5 of them during crisis periods (Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan.) This included reopening the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2001. She received the State Dept.'s Award for Heroism for her role in evacuating 2500 persons from the Sierra Leone civil war.

Be there May 6: potluck at 6 PM, presentations and Q & A, from 7 to 9pm. A donation is suggested to defray her expenses, but no one will be turned away.

Impeachment Summer begins Nationwide on April 28. Help get the celebration off to a rousing local start with someone who knows what she is talking about.

For more info, contact Paul 923 4488

The photo is from Wikipedia, linked above.


Drive to Siberia?

It may be in the works. Among other things, the Russians want to build a tunnel under the Bering Straight.

And we can't even get a by-pass for Willits!


Critical thinking, politics, and primates

Back in college I took a philosophy of religions class or something along those lines in which the professor's TA said something like, "the best books you read are those which teach you what you already know."

Okay, I know it was supposed to be deep and metaphysical and all that. And it wasn't question of politics. But I bristled at the comment then. Now I think it's pure crap.

On my way up to Eureka yesterday I caught Democracy Now on KMUD. Goodman had Noam Chomsky on (I'd challenge her to go three months without interviewing Chomsky, Zinn, or Parenti, but I think she'd suffer withdrawal.) to talk about, well, pretty much everything under the political sun. By my former TA's standards, the talk was brilliant. A couple of amusing anecdotes aside, I learned nothing I didn't already know. About 20 minutes into it my mind started to wander, occasionally popping back into the flow of his talk when he'd discuss his "masochistic NPR habit," or, well, there was something else that grabbed my attention but it obviously hasn't survived 24 hours of my conscious memory.

And let me say that I agree with about 80 percent of what he says, maybe 10 percent less than about 15 years ago when Manufacturing Consent came out, the change mostly about the Middle East. But I don't find anything he has to say original or insightful. Not to sound too pedantic, but the best books aren't the ones that teach you what you already know - the best are the ones that challenge your perceptions, or what you "know."

A few years ago Mark Drake and I co-hosted a radio show about critical thinking. It was a difficult topic, and most of the callers viewed "critical thinking" as that which challenges whatever they perceived to be the dominant paradigm. Well, maybe that was critical thinking for them at one time, perhaps their sophomore years of college. But once they locked into a new paradigm and donned the garb of the "dissident" (as if self-proclaimed dissidents are any less pack animals than the rest of us), the critical thinking became a liability and in many cases was abandoned.

I strongly recommend Dirty Hands, a Sartre play in the No Exit collection. It's about an upper class revolutionary who arrived at his revolutionary position precisely with critical thinking (not Sartre's phrase obviously, but the concept was clear). The story revolves around the irony that as a revolutionary the character is required to abandon that very quality which brought him to that point. The story is doubly ironic when you consider Sartre's own political evolution after this early career writing. And I'm sorry to say that a similar irony applies to an unfortunately large number of self-identified modern "activists." I'll take this up in more detail sometime in the future.

At the very end of the radio show we got a female caller. I'm paraphrasing from bad memory:
"I think critical thinking is something you men are very hot on, but there are other ways of knowing and understanding. Other cultures have done just fine without critical thinking. Sometimes intuitive understanding gives us a more holistic perception of reality - more useful."
We had no time to respond as we were right at the top of the hour, but setting aside the sexism of the comment (on more than one level) I would have tried to clarify whether she was equating critical thinking with deductive reasoning. The two are certainly related, but critical thinking merely refers to the tools by which an individual can challenge his or her perceptions (and intuition quite frankly). Deductive reasoning is one such tool.

And secondly, I don't believe that any culture has existed without deductive reasoning. In fact, any mammal observing zoologist will tell you that deductive reasoning is present to some degree with any species of animal with a cerebral cortex. You apply it on some level everyday.

But not necessarily when you're listening to another cookie-cutter speech by Noam Chomsky.

Diagram source.

Addendum: In an e-mail discussion shortly after I posted, I received the following comments regarding the biological classification of chimpanzees. Was the separate genus classification based upon good biology or politics?
Actually we should be in the same genus. But because of political pressure and emotions, we put ourselves in a different genus. Since the genus Pan was proposed first, we should be classified as Pan sapiens, not Homo sapiens.

Regardless, we are of a different species that seperated somewhere between 7 and 4 million years ago. We are NOT champanzees. We have our own diversity that makes us quite different.

This in no way means that we should be ashame of our close relatives.
This is from a friend who is in the know for such things. Don't ask me how it's topic related. I'm just going with the flow.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


But for the grace...

Our newest partner, Roxanne, practices family law. She and the others who work that area of law have my utmost respect. It can't be fun, but it's an absolutely essential service. Depending on your philosophy of practice, a good family law attorney can mitigate the darkness of an aspect of life of which only sickness and death is darker. Or you can prey on it.

I've been in family court a few times. Certain equitable relief in land cases involving domestic partners has landed me in family court. You can slice the tension in the air like butter as everybody waits for his/her case to be called with people who once loved each other gracing each other with furtive angry glances all the while holding tightly onto an air of righteousness as though afraid of breaking it. It brings out the worst in us. In San Francisco, you have to pass through a metal detector to get into the courthouse, and then a separate one to get into the family law department. Not even the criminal court has that kind of security.

As it happens I was in court today. Because I was in Eureka my partner asked me to file a matter in the family court up on the third floor. I think I've only been up there once before. This time, after completing my business, I noticed a table in the corner of the clerks office with children's books and crayons. I don't know why, but just the sight depressed me. I just tried to picture the kids playing there, trying to hide from their parents what they could perceive of the events. Obviously it would be preferable to keep the kids elsewhere, but not all soon-to-be-single moms have the resources.

I don't know. Maybe it bothered me because I have kids now. I'm very happy in my marriage, but I think that if I wasn't I'd almost consider just staying in an unhappy one for the kids' sake. Probably wouldn't be doing them any favors though. Makes me appreciate what I have.

Kudos also to the clerks in that office. They have a tough job.


All quiet on the Reggae front

I hesitate to post this as it's kind of nice having a whole page of threads with none about you-know-what. But I keep getting inquiries as to the latest.

Well, there isn't much. The parties had asked the judge to hold off on his decision in order to negotiate. When the negotiations didn't go anywhere, the parties asked the judge to issue the decision. I heard a rumor that the judge had indicated he was ready to make a decision, but so far nothing has been released to my knowledge.

And my understanding is that the parties are still talking. Talk is good.

I have a suggestion. Let's only post if we have something new to say. And I can't imagine what that would be. In any case, in the last ROR thread you were discussing..., well, whatever it was you were discussing. Something about goddesses, bear, and lunatic Nazi poets (yes I know. I'm a baaaaad blog moderator for trashing Pound).

Photo source Wikipedia.


Measure Z discussion tomorrow night

I have Darryl Cherney scheduled to argue for the extension of the parcel tax on All Things Reconsidered on KMUD tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. It will be call-in as usual. I expect that the show may be broken up at times by the pledge drive, but we should have plenty of time for questions.

So far nobody has taken up my invitation to speak for the opposition. If anybody is interested, please leave a message here or contact me at my office.


Letter from Barbara Truitt re civility

And I'm sorry I didn't see that post or I would have removed it immediately. I apologize for the pain it caused.
Dear Editor,

In my last letter to the editor, following the rancorous Mateel Annual Meeting in November, I mentioned my dismay at the incivility and personal attacks fueling the Reggae On The River controversy. Since then, I've begun reading the blogs, mainly ROTR's Lounge and Eric Kirk's So Hum Parlance, and I've found the on-line rudeness sinks to a whole new low, especially the comments by anonymous contributors.

What is their purpose, these anonymous people? Cogent arguments can stand on their own logic and be persuasive even if unsigned, but diatribes can only have credibility if their authors are known to be credible. So why do they send these unsigned, venomous entries? If it is to change opinion, it's at best ineffective, at worst counterproductive. If it is to vent pent-up feelings, it would be better to discard them privately after the writing, just as we wipe away our tears and flush away our waste. But perhaps it's to seek redress of a grivenace, in which case it also misses the mark, as any who want to help can't reach the injured party.

In my last perusal of Eric's blog I read a summary of a recent marijuana bust, followed by dozens of comments, most of them about the detrimental effects of the pot industry on So Hum culture (many of which rang true to me). One anonymous comment stopped me cold. Writing about pot-related violence, the author mentioned a number of deaths, "...Kathy Davis, Zak Stone (no loss),...." NO LOSS? Who presumes to make this very absolute judgment? Is it someone who had been injured by Zak, or who suffered an injustice at his hands? Or is it someone who nurses a grudge against me (Zak's mom), or his daughter, or another of his relatives or friends who still mourn the loss of his many wonderful qualities, not least of which were his courage and integrity which would never have allowed him to write an unsigned attack?

To the writer of this comment, let me say this: If you were motivated by a grievance, please give Zak's loved ones an opportunity to redress on his behalf. If to convince us that not only was he worthless, but that our feelings of love and loss are invalid, please identify yourself so that we might continue this discussion, perhaps in this paper, or by meeting in the park that Zak helped our community to acquire.

To other anonymous bloggers: Please consider both the goals of your comments and whether writing anonymously is the best way to achieve those goals.

Sincerely, Barbara Truitt

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Hillary Clinton's probably going to be the next president

You read it here first. Well, maybe not first.

Barring a major gaffe, she will win the nomination, and probably the general election as well. I've been resigned to this possibility for some time now, but these burn rate figures I borrowed from Daily Kos tell the story. It's more than the money itself. The donation figures reflect the mood and projections of the country's movers and shakers, and I've never seen Democrats with this kind of lead in fund raising. And the Clintons know how to run a campaign. Gore can't jump in at this point. Neither Edwards nor Obama have what it takes to beat her. The Republicans are in bad shape, and it's probably going to get worse for them. It's her's to lose.

Of course, she has plenty of time to screw it up.


In this week's widespread Fun with FEC Filings, The Right's Field has a post on the burn rates of Republican candidates, and it doesn't look so good for them:

ClosingTot ContribsOperating ExpsBurn Rate
Brownback For President$806,626$1,291,024$1,030,49279.82%
Gilmore For President$90,107$174,790$113,79065.10%
Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee$11,949,735$16,077,670$6,041,02937.57%
Hunter For President$272,552$502,424$263,422 52.43%
John McCain 2008$5,180,799$13,680,081$9,589,67470.10%
Ron Paul 2008 Presidential Campaign Committee$524,919$639,989$114,97017.96%
Romney For President$11,863,653$20,982,788$11,325,34253.97%
Tancredo For A Secure America$575,078$1,185,536$711,01259.97%
Tommy Thompson For President$139,723$315,128$252,31280.07%

If we leave out Ron Paul (which I think we can), Giuliani has the lowest burn rate, at 37.57%. This will be a pretty hard pace to keep up for most of the Republican candidates.

So what about the Democrats?

ClosingTot ContribsOperating ExpsBurn Rate
Biden for President$2,838,916$2,112,990$1,172,17455.5%
Hillary Clinton for President$30,974,780$26,054,302$5,059,51519.4%
Chris Dodd for President$7,482,467$4,043,757$1,313,23932.5%
John Edwards for President$10,731,881$14,029,654$3,291,63223.5%
Mike Gravel for President$498$34,720$107,737310%
Kucinich for President$163,887$358,569$194,44354.2%
Obama for America$19,192,521$25,709,105$6,554,78325.5%
Bill Richardson for President$5,022,473$6,246,382$1,217,05719.5%

If we leave out Mike Gravel (which I think we can), only Biden and Kucinich are in Republican burn-rate territory. Even Dodd is doing considerably better than Giuliani. Obama's burn rate is high given how much money he starts out with - it will be interesting to see if he's spending at a high rate to set up a strong infrastructure early or if he continues to outspend most other Democrats (and on what he's spending).

Kos source for the figures.


Couching racist language

This bizarre item comes via Pinko Feminist Hellcat.

It's a particular shame that Ms. Moore's seven-year-old daughter was the one to find it.

The photo comes from the above-linked article. You can get a clearer view by clicking on the photo here as well.


Some facts coming out of Virginia

Whereupon numbers turn to people. The first sampling from AP:
A vast portrait of the victims began to emerge, among them: Christopher James Bishop, 35, who taught German at Virginia Tech and helped oversee an exchange program with a German university; Ryan "Stack" Clark, a 22-year-old student from Martinez, Ga., who was in the marching band and was working toward degrees in biology and English; Emily Jane Hilscher, a 19-year-old freshman from Woodville, Va., who was majoring in animal and poultry sciences and, naturally, loved animals; and Liviu Librescu, an Israeli engineering and math lecturer who was said to have protected his students' lives by blocking the doorway of his classroom from the approaching gunman.
The article also contains some chilling fact about this extremely troubled young man.

Sorry, I don't know anything about whether the school or anyone else acted appropriately. I don't really care at this moment. Plenty of time for finger-pointing in the future.

Oh, and for what it's worth, the guns were purchased lawfully.


The ethics of confidential blogging

Discussed in the second part of the Times-Standard's coverage of Captain Buhne's coming out. Yours truly is quoted in the article.

There is a long history of anonymous writing by the way. It wasn't invented by bloggers. How many can identify even one of Samual Clemmon's works?

Since most of you blog anonymously, I won't bother polling you. But maybe you can share your reasons. Why don't you want to put your real name to your writing? Are you concerned about your employment? You social standing? Is the risky aspect of your writing necessary to its vitality? Are you worried about your physical safety?

The ER also has a nice interview with him.

And let's please not forget the paper which broke the story.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Driving While Black, chapter 12,475,932

There is obviously a strong racial component to all this, although an associated factor are the lazy asses he encountered in the criminal justice system who are obviously very cavalier about personal rights and freedom. He was written off as a lying nigger from the first moment of contact. For the whole story go to this Washington Post article. Here are some highlights.
The impact stunned him, the sudden violence of it on a spring morning. Elias Fishburne IV, on his way to a 6 a.m. workout, now stood in his gym clothes on Route 50 in Cheverly and took measure of the damage. Talking on his cellphone, Fishburne had nearly sideswiped another car while changing lanes, then swerved away too hard and hit the guardrail. Elias was unhurt, but his Beemer was mangled.

A Maryland state trooper pulled up and took Fishburne's license and registration back to his patrol car. Fishburne called a friend who lived nearby to come pick him up. He'd have to get the car towed, file an insurance claim, and what about all the errands he needed to run before flying off to Puerto Rico for the weekend?


You have the wrong man, Fishburne remembers saying, in the patrol car, then again at the police substation where he was booked May 5, 2005. They kept calling him by a name he'd never heard before: Jarvis Tucker. On the warrant from Georgia, Elias Fishburne was listed as one of several known aliases used by a career criminal named Jarvis Tucker. Fishburne's vehement protests that there had been a mix-up were met with blank indifference. "Someone else will deal with that," he remembers someone in uniform telling him.


At the Prince George's County Jail, Fishburne remembers the booking officer glancing at the image and description of Jarvis Tucker on his computer, and back at him, comparing the warrant with the driver's license of the frantic prisoner before him. The birth dates were three years apart. Tucker was described as an armed drug dealer who stood 5 feet 10 and weighed 190 pounds; the man in custody was two inches shorter and at least 50 pounds lighter. The facial features were dissimilar, too. The only trait indisputably shared was race. The fugitive in the system and the suspect in handcuffs were both black men.


What no one told him, Fishburne now realizes, was that waiving extradition would effectively freeze him in this bureaucratic error. No one said what Department of Corrections official Jeff Logan declares so clearly now: "Understand this: If it is not you, you do not acquiesce to anything. You're caught in the wheels of justice and they're spinning against you."

Fishburne sees now how naive he was to believe that the system was somehow self-correcting, that the truth would quickly become obvious, that he wouldn't even need an attorney. I'm a hairdresser, he remembers trying to explain to everyone he encountered. I'm a veteran, I have a mortgage, a business, a Web site, a clean record, a sound reputation. "They're looking at me like, whatever."


In Charleston, S.C., GeorgeAnna Milligan had been waiting all day that Sunday for her oldest son to call. Elias never missed Mother's Day. "Finally, his friend Jerome calls and tells me Elias has been arrested," she recounts. All Wilcox knew was that there had been an accident, Elias was okay, but he was in jail. Jail? Was someone killed? Milligan's mind raced. She quickly put together the pieces Elias hadn't.

She called the Prince George's Sheriff's Office, trying to track down her son. "He doesn't have any aliases. His ID was stolen," she explained again and again. "Why can't you just check his fingerprints and run his background in NCIC?" Milligan knew the FBI's National Crime Information Center was the data bank that would prove her son was not wanted, that his fingerprints, birth date and Social Security number didn't match those of this Jarvis Tucker. She had confidence in this system of checks and balances, because she herself had relied on it years before while working for the Charleston police. "I took mug shots and did fingerprints," she recounts. "I knew what I was talking about."


A slip of paper in the court file states that the arresting officer did not perform the required NCIC computer check of the defendant because the computer system was out of service. Nothing in the court file indicates any further attempt was made to confirm the identity of the man in custody. Each of at least six entities to handle Fishburne's case -- the Maryland State Police, the state Department of Corrections, the Prince George's County Sheriff's Office, the state's attorney, the District Court administrator and the sheriff issuing the warrant in Georgia -- maintained that responsibility for confirming the prisoner's identity fell to someone else.

"We trust that's already taken care of," said Cpl. Mario Ellis, spokesman for the Prince George's Sheriff's Office, which endorsed the warrant stating the fugitive Jarvis Tucker was in custody.

"The onus wouldn't be on the Department of Corrections," countered Logan, adding, "The judge could have done something."

Requests to court administrators seeking comment from Judge Heffron were denied.


Since Jarvis Tucker was a fugitive, bail was not an option for the innocent man whose life had been upended. GeorgeAnna Milligan said she learned that the supposedly prepaid legal service would require a $2,500 retainer before a lawyer would even meet with Elias in jail, and then another lawyer would have to be hired in Atlanta to fight the charges there. Milligan says she kept calling Maryland authorities, insisting they had the wrong man; Elias's friends did the same, both on the phone and when they visited him. "He'll have his day in court, was the response we were getting," recalls Jerome Wilcox.


"I was so upset," Fishburne recalled. "I was getting all teary-eyed and cotton-mouthed, and the cop says, 'There he goes with his acting again.' " Fishburne appealed to the woman taking his fingerprints. The prints of Jarvis Tucker were on her computer screen with his warrant data.

"Can't you see they're not the same?" Fishburne implored.

"It doesn't add up," he remembers her agreeing as she processed him anyway. "Someone will talk to you about it."


The background check Fulton County authorities had performed took 36 hours to determine that Prince George's had sent them the wrong man. Fishburne was handed the gym clothes he had been wearing the morning he crashed. He was issued a check for the funds his friends and mother had deposited in his commissary account. He was freed. No apologies were offered, he says, no ticket home provided. He stood outside the jail with no cash, no transportation, no explanation. He looked at the commissary refund. The check was for $80. It was made out to Jarvis Tucker.

Thanks to Cristina B. for sending me the link.

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