Wednesday, April 23, 2008

 

Gallegos takes the guns from Code Enforcement

The following article written by Daniel Mintz was sent out on an AEB e-mail, but I don't know which paper he was writing for. Apparently the article was written yesterday. The e-mail heading says the TS, ER and NCJ are (edit) not covering it.

I'm posting the article in its entirety. If and when it turns up in a paper I'll remove the article and replace it with a link. But this is too important to hold back.

Daniel has also done some research into the history of the CEU. (Edit - as the story may be found in this week's Independent, I'm paring it down to key portions. I'm also leaving in the portion where Hendry says that some of the people speaking at the meetings were lying.).
Capping a process that has been ongoing but was quickened by recent controversies, District Attorney Paul Gallegos has notified the county that he’s rescinded the deputy DA status of code enforcement officers.

Collaborations between the county’s two-man Code Enforcement Unit and police has triggered criticism and at a recent community meeting in Garberville and an April 8 Board of Supervisors hearing, it was loud and impassioned. Supervisors responded to it by ordering a 45-day stop to code inspections done under warrants, and Gallegos has informed the county he’s done something he says he’s been trying to do for awhile – remove code officers’ deputy DA status.

....

“It was suggested that since I do not have authority of the investigators, that I rescind my deputization authority. I said that was a fair request because I thought it was,” Gallegos said in an e-mail exchange. “Accordingly, after that meeting, I notified county counsel that I was rescinding my deputization of County Counsel's Investigators.”

....

Gallegos said he has tried to change the way things are done and took action after a series of code unit/police encounters with residents of the Elk Ridge and Woods Ranch areas inflamed the issue. “There have been discussions about deputization being done by the Sheriff's office instead of my office because if I am going to deputize them, I want them as my employees,” Gallegos said. “There was delay. Then there was delay. Then there were the incidents in Southern Humboldt.”

Gallegos explained why he took action. “I did not do because I believe they or anyone did anything wrong,” he said. “I am not in a position to say whether they did or did not. Nor should my action be seen as indicating that, if they became my employees, I would not deputize them to allow them to carry firearms. That would depend on the nature of their work and the need for such weapons. It was done because I felt I could not allow the arrangement which I perceived to be ill-conceived, at least as it related to my responsibility and authority, to continue any longer.”

....

None of the departments involved were asked to respond to it, and Hendry questioned the accuracy of the portrayals. “I think there’s been misconception, to a great extent, on what happened and who was involved,” he said. “Some of the descriptions of what took place didn’t happen the way they were portrayed.”
Also on the topic of the Code Enforcement Unit, here is the agenda for the first task force meeting. I don''t know if the meeting's open to the public.
Code Enforcement Task Force Meeting
A G E N D A
April 30, 2008 10:00 A.M.
Humboldt County Library Conference Room 1313 3rd Stree4t Eureka, CA 95501

Members:
Roger Rodoni Second District Supervisor
Jill Geist Fifth District Supervisor
Phil Smith-Haynes Asst. County Office Administrator
Bonnie Blackberry Civil Liberties Monitoring Project
Wes Juliana Civil Liberties Monitoring Project
Liz Davidson Civil Liberties Monitoring Project
Dan Taranto At-Large Representative
Jack Berstein At-Large Representative
Robert Vogt At-Large Representative
Staff (as needed for meeting):
Wendy Chaitin Interim County Counsel
Kirk Girard Community Development Services
Brian Cox Div. of Environmental Health
Paul Gallegos District Attorney

Call to Order-Supervisor Rodoni

Welcome and Introductions (Attachment A- Distribution of member contact list)

Purpose of the Code Enforcement Task Force (Attachment B-Copy of April 8th Certified Copy Board Order) As a result of issues heard by the Board of Supervisor’s on April 8, 2008, Task Force Members shall examine the Code Enforcement Manual and other appropriate procedures, and evaluate the coordination with Community Development Services, Environmental Health, County Counsel including the Code Enforcement Unit, and the District Attorney’s Office

Tasks, Finding and Recommendation Due Date – by Friday, May 23rd

Introduction to Code Enforcement – Chaitin/Hendry
Overview
Authority
Types of Code Enforcement
Building Code
Resource Code
Subdivision Map Act
Solid Waste
Public Health & Safety
Warrant Inspections
How Does One Find Themselves Receiving Attention by CEU?
Inter-Department Coordination and Response
Remedy Courses
Community Development
Code Enforcement Unit
Board of Supervisor’s Nuisance & Abatement Hearings
District Attorney

Summarize Public Input from Board of Supervisor’s April 8th meeting

Respond to Questions submitted by Bonnie Blackberry at April 8th meeting.

Discuss Evaluation process, Recommendation and Report Findings format.

Discuss next meeting topics and date.

Adjourn to -(Tentative)Wednesday, May XX, 2009 at 10:00 AM
More as I get it.

Addendum: The ER has the story this morning.

Second addendum: As noted above, Daniel M.'s story is in the Independent this week.

Comments:
at least gallegos took away their deputization - better late than never. so for the moment, we no longer have the armed "code cops" in humboldt county.

who knows, after 45 days of not having armed code enforcement officers, perhaps it will be clear that this peculiar little bureaucratic police force should never have been armed in the first place.

- thorn
 
A similar story on this issue will appear in the ER shortly.
 
so, referring to testimony given at the supervisors' meeting, richard hendry "questions the accuracy of some of the portrayls" of what happened in the code enforcement raids. but apparently he doesn't specify which ones or give any reason why we should believe his assertion rather than eyewitness accounts from residents.

for example, was hendry present on the day of the violent code enforcement raid at the yee-haw ranch in trinidad? if not, how is he in any position to challenge eyewitness accounts by the residents? answer: he's not.

- thorn
 
this week's north coast journal's cover article is also on the code enforcement issue.

from the new north coast journal article, here’s how kirk girard explains why he doesn’t want oversight of code enforcement actvities moved back to the building and planning department:

========================
“If you’re running a department, and you have one division that can generate controversy, like code enforcement can, a controversy in that division can color non-controversial activities in another division…and so you get this political spilling over of that problem. And so…to compartmentalize the controversy and to give it to a unit that is more able to not only withstand the controversy but deal with it, that is better organizational design.”
====================

“compartmentalize the controversy?” well maybe that is smart “organizational design” but it also sounds like girard just doesn’t want to handle this hot potato.

not surprisingly girard would rather be insulated from public outrage over the end-results of the “targeted” rural code enforcement sweep that the north coast journal article identifies as originating from his department.

no wonder people are “conflating the issues” of code enforcement and planning when planning director girard does appear to be a key figure in instigating and targeting the current round of code enforcement crackdowns.

after reading his comments, i’m not sure whether to advocate for centralizing all code inspections under planning and building so that at least the lines of accountability will be clearer, and the circular passing-of-the-buck will be harder to manage, or to advocate giving it to some other department out of fear that giving more control to someone like girard would only make the situation even worse!
 
heraldo also has a new thread about the showing of a video of the 1988 code enforcement hearing that was apparently shown on channel 12 tonight. sounds like it was a doozy.

http://humboldtherald.wordpress.com/2008/04/23/1988-code-enforcement-meeting-on-channel-12-right-now/#comment-33829
 
so, at least 45 days without the insanity of armed code cops. maybe we'll win decriminalization and disbanding of the code enforcement unit as law enforcement function.

or maybe the whole thing will just be restructured under the sherriff's department and then the shouting-and-pushing-people-about can get back under way as usual? real change, or just a bureacratic shell game to conceal maintenance of the status quo? we'll see...
 
Well, the Council could change the charter so that someone else deputizes them. Sheriff Philp maybe.
 
by "the council" do you mean the board of supervisors?

and by "the charter" you are referring to...?

and what is the process for changing this charter?

sorry for my ignorance, but i'm not clear on quite what you're saying in terms of how the process would work... i would appreciate any clarification you could offer.
 
i'm not sure the situation will be much improved under philp, if it is improved at all. but at least the accountability situation could be somewhat improved, as philp could then be responsible to the voters for the conduct of the code enforcers.

but straight-up decriminalization of the building codes makes a lot more sense. why do we need a bunch of armed code enforcement squad in the first place?

even jeff conner told the crowd in garberville that only 15% of code inspectors in california were law enforcement agents - humboldt should join the 85% and opt for civility over armed force.
 
SO-O-O... according to today's Eureka Reporter, the DA who wants to use his ASSET FORFEITURE money to set up an assault team now wants to de-deputize Code Enforcement unless he is in charge of them?

The DA who intends to buy semiautomatic weapons for his investigators, complete with all the regalia, and set up his own assault force?

Ya know... I'm just askin' - you really think this is a good thing?

Not to mention that you oughtta take a look at what he has done to every other department that he is in charge of.

Seriously, Eric.
 
i'm not sure the situation will be much improved under philp, if it is improved at all. but at least the accountability situation could be somewhat improved, as philp could then be responsible to the voters for the conduct of the code enforcers.

It wouldn't be improved at all unless Philp was given authority as well as the power to deputize.
 
by "the council" do you mean the board of supervisors?

and by "the charter" you are referring to...?

and what is the process for changing this charter?


I meant Board, sorry. The Code Enforcement Program was created by the Board of Supes. Only they can change the rules by which it plays.
 
Thank goodness we have elected Paul Gallegos (3 times now) as our DA.

You know that Dikeman would never, ever have taken this action.

Nor would he hold any of his "friends" with guns responsible fro their actions. Of course anyone who helps bust more pot growers is going to be OK with Worth.
 
What's an AEB e-mail?
 
8:56 - Alliance for Ethical Business
 
You guys are so uninformed. Gallegos armed his guys so that they would do the code enforcement to increase asset forfieture and he'd have more toys and money. The investigators were bragging about it when they got the assault weapons.
 
10:45 - the Code Enforcement duputization arrangement predates Gallegos. He also did not arm them, but conveyed onto them the power to carry arms, which he has now revoked.

It has nothing to do with the assault weapons he ordered for his own investigators.
 
This story was on the front page of The Independent with a huge above the fold headline.
 
Hey 10:45, read the story in the NCJ instead of relying on Rose I-hate-Paul-more-then-life-itself Welsh for your information and you will lean that they were armed by Terry Farmer back in 1998.
But nice try.
 
has the building department come up with any ways to help people who built to code but without a permit legalize their dwelling....or are they just fishing 4 grows
you would think that if they are going to tag peoples structures they at the same time would be setting up a better permitting system which means they would have to deal with all the zoning problems.
and how does tpz play into this, i know quit alot of people who live on tpz land does that mean everyone on tpz could be red tagged as well?

forget about the wepons 4 a second yeah armed code enforment sucks but code enforment of city standard in rural areas do not make sense

what i dont understand if you have no way to rectify the problems(permits/zoning) how are they able fine/ticket you, without giving you the ability fix things
catch 22
 
of course they were armed before. they are cops.

The fact is that the new DA assault team was created to do the asset forfieture.

Sorry, but that is the way it is.
 
most people prefer claims that include at least a little bit of evidence, rather than claims lacking any evidence.

that's just the way it is.
 
12;42, good questions and points. There was a system set up in 1988 for 'alternative owner-builders' but it was never widely used, in part because it included no grandfathering or real amnesty like people demanded, so they walked away from it, the county didn't push either, and 20 years later here we are. It's a total catch-22 for some people like the Tooby Ranchers who have been refused permits for 5 years by the county, while county gunmen harass them for not having permits!

The best suggestion I've heard for resolving the underlying insanity is this: a 'restoration code' that encourages people to lighten their footprints on rural land, conserve water, improve roads, control sediment, reduce fire loads etc in exchange for flexible codes on owner-builders. This could also mitigate the 'shaded title' nightmares at Tooby Ranch, Titlow Hill and elsewhere, where ancient grudges against developers over who done what get resolved with stewardship responsibilities that mitigate human impacts. These ideas will be kicked around at the Task Force but they'll need their own legs.

Is it time to Stand United (whatever) again? This time we could get urban planning reforms into the mix as well, so more people will care. The good news is, planning is acontroversial mess all over. But the need for it is recognized pretty generally outside of CPR.
 
Oh, Richard. I didn't say he armed the code enforcement guys.

I said he planned to use his ASSET FORFEITURE money to BUY semi-automatic weapons (AR-15s) and matching garb for HIS investigators. The stated purpose of the weapons was for ASSET FORFEITURE raids - now, when you combine THAT with him taking over the Code Enforcement Unit, who is under fire right now for mixing drug searches and code infractions - ARE YOU CRAZY?

You think putting him and Hislop in charge of Code Enforcement is a wise decision?
 
And by the way, in case you don't believe me or are new to this particular discussion, here is the link to the story, (additional links on that post) and the link to Paul Gallegos' request to use his Asset Forfeiture money to set up this well-armed Asset Forfeiture Team. (Humboldt County Board of Supervisors AGENDA March 6, 2007 Consent Calendar Item c-5)

Now remember what Asset Forfeiture does - it goes after dope growers and their toys, their trucks, their ATVs, all that. He likes the idea of the money it will bring in - read the articles.

Purchase requisitions for the eight-person investigations unit included one 42-gun safe with an electronic lock and dehumidifier at $3,619.31, eight AR-15 semiautomatic rifles at $1,920 each, 10 boxes of .223-caliber hollow-point bullets at $198.50 a box, eight sets of body armor at $550 each, eight tactical vests at $100 each, 16 pairs of tan double-front Carhartt pants at $45 each, eight black parkas at $188 each, 16 “DA Investigator” patches for the parkas at $8 each, a sewing and tailoring charge for the parkas of $27.50, eight short-sleeved polo shirts at $34 each, eight long-sleeved polo shirts at $26 each and an embroidery and lettering charge for the shirts of $520.
 
And for the record - I do not HATE Gallegos. I do think he is unqualified to be DA, and is too willing to use that office inappropriately. And the facts show this.
 
Who will replace Roger on the Task Force?
 
Another Board member. Probably Jimmy Smith.
 
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