by Bruce Anderson, March 4, 2014
ATTENTION AVA READERS. A family medical emergency has put us behind a day. Look for the print edition to hit the stands this week on Thursday morning.
THE STATE Public Utilities Commission has rejected a $138 million initiative to bring high-speed internet to roughly 150,000 rural California households, including 3,520 homes in Sonoma and Mendocino counties.
Mendo s Broadband Alliance has worked long and hard to bring broadband here, as has Supervisor Hamburg. The state said there just weren t enough potential customers for the privately owned delivery systems to hook us up.
AN ONLINE COMMENTER puts it this way: The US ranks 31st in the world for average broadband speed, behind Romania. We also pay the highest prices for our slow service, thanks to a lack of competition among monopolists like Comcast and Verizon.
Isn t US capitalism the best! USA! USA!
AL GORE, about the time he said he invented the internet, went around the country saying the government should own his invention, but when Gore sat down with the titans of technology they said, No, Al, we should own it. Al, of course, gave up and gave it over. The internet is now as essential to the American life as our federal highways.
Of course the net should be publicly owned. But here we are with no outback high speed internet access, and more unlikely than ever to get it, and an increasing monopolization of the net. What s good for Comcast is good for America?
DA EYSTER basically sells dope misdemeanors.
The argument for his policy of trading felonies for cash is that it keeps the courts from clogging up with pot cases while at the same time helping to fund law enforcement which, of course, is already funded. A person gets arrested with a bunch of pot; if he or she wants to fight in court the DA promises to max them out with state prison time if they re convicted. And unless they pay for a private defense attorney, they fre going to get convicted.
But if they play let s make a deal with Eyster and pay a fine proportionate to the value of the product they got caught with, they get the fine and a misdemeanor. If they offend again, it s off with their heads.
IN THE Point Arena case of The People vs. Stornetta, a case whose nambo-pambo disposition still has non-drug people shaking their heads, and outrages fishermen even more because Stornetta also had been poaching the precarious fishery of the Garcia River, you have a good example of how Eyster s policy can break down.
The settlement of that one also seemed at least partially motivated by the prominence of the Stornetta family. (Don t get us started on the in-house palsy-walsy-ism endemic in Mendocino County.) Lots of non-drug people, and even some drug people, are complaining that Eyster s policy is letting some very bad dudes slide, dudes who go straight back out and resume not only pot production and sales but sales of hard drugs, too. The lack of a public paper trail in the cases settled for cash and misdemeanors, and Mendo s dope policies generally, are apparently causing federally raised eyebrows.
AND EYSTER S gone absolutely odd on the Marcos Escareno matter. Remember Escareno?
A registered member of the Manchester-Point Arena Band of Pomo Indians, Escareno was 14 and falling down drunk when he shot and killed Enoc Cruz, 21. There has always been speculation that Cruz, a drug dealer romantically involved with one of Escareno s sisters, was actually shot by another drug guy. But when it all shook out, Escareno was convicted and packed off to the California Youth Authority.
The late judge Ron Brown stipulated that if the kid did everything he was asked to do at YA, he could go home when he was 21. Escareno got with the program. He s now 21 at home with one of his sisters in Point Arena.
But here comes Eyster with a motion to send Escareno to adult prison for another year and a half. (CYA, lately euphemized as the California Division of Juvenile Justice is an adult-like commitment because almost of its graduates matriculate directly to state prisons.) Why is Eyster pursuing this guy? It s not like there s any public pressure to put him back behind bars, and since he s been home he s been a model citizen. The kid is not exactly undefended.
He s got three attorneys on his side Kitty Houston, Omar Figueroa and Tony Serra plus former supervisor Norman deVall who went to bat for the boy at the time of the shooting.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY PRESS LIAISON Mike Geneilla responded: Please see DA Eyster s letter (below) to Judge Mayfield. Yet another case of former District Attorney Meredith Lintott letting something slip through the cracks. In a nutshell, the sentencing law wasn t followed correctly in this case, according to the current DA.
IN HIS FORMAL LEGAL BRIEF filed with the Superior Court on February 20, DA Eyster explained:
Dear Judge Mayfield: By this letter I am respectfully submitting for your consideration a summary of the People s position on the current legal status of defendant Escareno and my recommendations for what needs to be accomplished hereafter.
Defendant Marcos Cattarino Escareno , as he was originally charged in direct file criminal proceedings, was born May 14, 1992 in Fort Bragg, California. By criminal complaint filed February 8, 2007 in the Mendocino County Superior Court (docket number MCUK CRCR 07-76000-02), the defendant was charged with a felony violation of Penal Code section 187, murder, occurring on or about February 6, 2007, and it was further alleged that the defendant personally and intentionally discharged a firearm causing death, pursuant to Penal Code section 12022.53(d). It was additionally alleged the defendant was a minor eligible for the direct filing provisions of Welfare and Institutions Code 707(d)(2)(A) & (B).
When he committed this crime, the defendant was 14 years, 8 months, and 23 days old. By information filed February 4, 2008 in the Mendocino County Superior Court (docket number SCUK CRCR 07-76000-02), the defendant was charged with a felony violation of Penal Code sections 187(a)/189, the murder of a Mr. Cruz with premeditation and deliberation, and the personal and intentional discharge of a firearm causing the death, pursuant to Penal Code section 12022.53(d).
It was further alleged the defendant was a minor eligible for the direct filing provisions of Welfare and Institutions Code 707(d)(2)(A) & (B). At the time of the filing of the information, the defendant was 15 years, 8 months, and 21 days old. On December 7, 2009, during the course of the scheduled jury trial, then Deputy District Attorney Brian Newman moved to amend the information to supersede the pending charges and instead charge a felony violation of Penal Code section 192(a), voluntary manslaughter, and the personal use of a firearm, pursuant to Penal Code section 12022.5(a).
The defendant personally entered a no contest plea to the amended charge of voluntary manslaughter and admitted he had personally used a firearm in the commission of that substantive offense. The matter was referred to the adult probation department for a report and recommendation. Judgment and sentencing was calendared for January 27, 2010.
At the time he admitted criminal liability, the defendant was 17 years, 6 months, and 23 days old. A Probation Officer s Report and Recommendation was received by the District Attorney s Office on January 21, 2010. That report recommended that a commitment of the defendant to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) be ordered for six (6) years on the voluntary manslaughter count, with a consecutive four (4) years on the personal use of the firearm allegation, for a combined sentence of ten (10) years.
Of special interest in both the change of plea and ultimate sentencing in this case is the admission of and sentencing on the personal use of a firearm, pursuant to Penal Code section 12022.5(a). Welfare and Institutions Code section 1732.6(b)(2) mandates that, (b) No minor shall be committed to the Youth Authority when he or she is convicted in a criminal action for: (2) An offense described in paragraphs (1), (2), or (3) of subdivision (d) of Section 707, if the circumstances enumerated in those paragraphs are found to be true by the trier of fact. Of the subsections of Section 707(d) referenced by Section 1732.6(b)(2), subsection (2) is clearly applicable to the instant case.
The misconduct described by section 707(d)(2)(B) is, The minor is alleged to have personally used a firearm during the commission or attempted commission of a felony, as described in Section 12022.5 of the Penal Code. Accordingly, when read together, it is clear from the above two Welfare and Institutions Code sections that no minor defendant shall be committed to the Youth Authority when he stands convicted in a criminal action for an offense where it has been proven that the minor defendant personally used a firearm during the commission of a felony, pursuant to Penal Code section 12022.5. In the instant case, the defendant admitted the personal use of a firearm, within the meaning of Penal Code section 12022.5(a), the Court found a factual basis for that admission, and the defendant s 12022.5(a) admission was entered on the record.
It follows from the uncontested facts that the commitment to the California Youth Authority (CYA) later renamed the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) would have been and is an illegal commitment unless the defendant was as reflected by the two abstracts of judgment sentenced to the CDCR merely to be housed at CYA/DJJ, pursuant to Health and Welfare Code section 1731.5. The sentencing hearing originally calendared in this case for January 27, 2010 did not take place and, instead, this particular prosecution continued on a tortuous procedural path. On June 9, 2010, the Court stated, I m going to make a direct commitment to the Department of Corrections Juvenile Division pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code 1732.6.
I m going to ask Probation to prepare the order. He is remanded for transportation to the Department of Corrections Juvenile Division. Italics added.
Transcript, June 9, 2010, page 2, lines 27-28, page 3, lines 1-4. On July 7, 2010, an abstract of judgment was filed and certified indicating a commitment to the CDCR with the defendant to be housed at DJJ per WI 1731.5(c). This abstract indicates the original sentencing took place on March 5, 2010.
Credits were awarded on the July 2010 abstract of 1,123 actual days (three years, 28 days), local conduct credits of 168, pursuant to Penal Code 2955.1, for total credits of 1,291 (three years, 6 months, 16 days). However, a second abstract filed on August 18, 2010 an abstract that now indicates the sentencing in this case was pronounced on August 13, 2010 also changes the credits that had been awarded on the July 2010 abstract. The August 2010 abstract awards only actual day credit 1,123 actual days with no local conduct credits, a modification to conform the credits to a letter received from the DJJ.
As analyzed above, if it was the original trial court s intention to sentence this particular defendant to a direct commitment pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code 1732.6, that sentence was an illegal sentence in light of Welfare and Institutions Code 1732.6(b)(2) and Welfare and Institutions Code 707(d)(2)(B), as read together as required by law. As such, the only legal housing options that the original trial court should have countenanced were (1) a direct and otherwise standard commitment to the adult division of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation or (2) a commitment to CDCR with a housing placement at CYA/DJJ, pursuant to 1731.5(c). It is respectfully asserted that this Court must now resentence the defendant to the original ten (10) year prison sentence, issue an amended abstract, and remand the defendant to the custody of the Sheriff for transportation to the CDCR to serve the remainder of his prison commitment.
This resentencing will correct the prior housing illegality and maintain the adult jurisdiction of this proceeding. As for time owed and credits, the defendant was taken into custody on February 6, 2007 and was released from custody on December 24, 2013 during hastily-called court proceedings in Department B. The total difference between these two dates calculates out to 2,514 days.
Since the defendant s crime along with the special allegation make his offense a violent felony, within the meaning Penal Code 667.5(c), the defendant s good time/work time credits are limited to 15 percent. This means an additional 377 days should be added to the 2,514 days, making his total custody credits 2,891 days. To complete the defendant s 10 year sentence when converted to days would require a combination of actual days and good time/work time credits of 3,650 days.
Subtracting the aforementioned credits from the referenced commitment, the defendant still owes 759 days of imprisonment in the CDCR, or a little more than two full years. Assuming the defendant would be successful at earning the maximum allowable good time/work time credits (185 days), he will still have 645 actual days of imprisonment to serve. Upon completion of his sentence and release from the CDCR, the defendant will be under the parole supervision of the state parole authority.
Finally, I have concerns and objections that the procedural path this case has followed starting most recently on December 24, 2013 has violated in many regards the victims rights policies and mandates of Marsy s Law. I also believe the original sentencing if the practical effect was to surreptitiously convert adult jurisdiction to juvenile jurisdiction by means of a housing commitment, and/or by circumventing statutory prohibitions to achieve that housing commitment also violated Marsy s Law. It appears from a records review that the victim s family was not given notice in 2010 by the court or by prosecutors of the former DA administration of the issues outlined herein and thus the victim s family members were not given the opportunity to object, as was and is their right.
If you have any questions, I will be happy to attempt to answer same at the hearing currently scheduled for February 24th. To make the most efficient use of that time, I am providing a copy of this letter brief to the defendant s counsel and the probation officers tasked the responsibility of helping to unravel this matter so that any counter arguments will have been prepared and ready for the Court s consideration. Respectfully submitted, C.
David Eyster, District Attorney =============================
ADD JAMES CAHILL to the roster of eminent Mendocino County natives. Born on August 13th, 1926 in Fort Bragg, Cahill went on to master several Asian languages, becoming a famous art scholar specializing in Chinese painting. Professor Cahill s passing at his Berkely home on February 14th received lengthy memorial notice in the New York Times.
COMMENT OF THE DAY
The EU is like the US the actors are not the populace.
There the people in charge are so bought off by the US government and the ties they have to US multinationals and banks that they can hardly imagine not genuflecting in Washington s direction. They or their children have attended US universities, and they have imbibed neoliberalism from US sources. They fear their own people, each other, Russia, and immigration from the Middle East and Africa, so they look to the power of the US to keep the good times rolling for them and their cronies.
Basically, as the US loots the planet, the big players in Europe are the first in line to get their cut. This prevents them from having to bamboozle their own populations into going out and getting the loot for themselves. It s a thoroughly ugly, cynical business, but it pays them well. ( James Levy)
UKIAH MAN STABBED TUESDAY
Suspect fled the scene after argument
A Ukiah man was stabbed Tuesday afternoon during an argument, the Ukiah Police Department reported.
UPD Capt. Justin Wyatt said the suspect, who fled the scene in the 700 block of South Oak Street, was known to the victim and fled the scene before officers arrived around 3 p.m. March 4.
The combined Ukiah Valley Fire District and Ukiah Fire Department responded to treat the 51-year-old victim, which Capt. Pete Bushby said had suffered two stab wounds to the upper arm from what he described as a folding knife, or pocket knife. Sgt.
Cedric Crook said the suspect was identified as Phillip McNally, 55, a longtime Ukiah resident, who is wanted on the charge of assault with a deadly weapon.
CAN THIS MARRIAGE BE SAVED?
ON MARCH 3, 2014, at approximately 9:32pm, Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff s Office were dispatched to a residence in the 10000 block of Heeser Street in Mendocino, California in regards to a suspected domestic violence incident. Upon arriving at the residence the victim told Deputies that she and David Vanlandingham, 57, of Mendocino, had been drinking at a local bar that evening when his 51 year old female spouse became tired and left early to go home and sleep. Vanlandingham stayed at the bar and returned home later, angry that she had not stayed at the bar.
Vanlandingham awoke the victim and an argument ensued resulting in him holding a meat cleaver against the victim s throat. Shortly thereafter, Vanlandingham removed the knife from the victim s throat causing no injury. Vanlandingham was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment and battery against a spouse.
Vanlandingham was transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $30,000 bail. (Sheriff s Press Release)
UKIAH COMMUNITY CONCERTS PRESENTS:
On Sunday March 9, Ukiah Community Concerts will be presenting the Gothard Sisters at Ukiah High School, in the Cafetorium at 3pm. Tickets are $25 general, $5 for students.
Fierce, fast fiddling and a splash of lively step dancing are only a couple of reasons The Gothard Sisters will make you wish you were Irish.
Greta, Willow and Solana Gothard began classical violin training and competitive Irish dancing at a young age leading them to leadership positions in the local Youth Symphonies and to the Irish dancing World Championships where they competed in the solo category three years in a row. In 2007, the sisters were on a Seattle-based Irish dance team that placed second at the World Championships in Scotland.
The Gothard Sisters have also developed additional talents on guitar, bodhran and voice and their love for music, dance and storytelling is their inspiration for performing and recording. Having recorded six CDs, their most recent Story Girl album won the 2011 Celtic Radio s Album of the Year.
A live show with these beautiful young ladies is family entertainment at its best.
Ukiah High School is at 1000 Low Gap Road.
ALL ABOUT MONEY with host, John Sakowicz, returns to KZYX on Friday morning at 9am, with a special edition show about the crisis in the Ukraine. The Ukraine is going bankrupt.
It s an economic crisis, as well as a political crisis. On Friday s show, we ll bring real critical analysis from two top guests to exploding myths and outline solutions. Our guests are Katrina Vanden Heuvel and Francis Boyle.
Katrina vanden Heuvel is editor, publisher, and part owner of The Nation and just wrote the piece The Ukraine crisis calls for less bluster, more common sense in the Washington Post .
She has been the magazine s editor since 1995. She is a frequent guest on numerous television programs. Vanden Heuvel is a leading voice among liberals and progressives.
She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Francis Boyle is a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law. His books include Foundations of World Order (Duke University Press: 1999). He said today: John Kerry is claiming to stand for international law and invokes the 1994 Budapest Agreement.
Of course the U.S. has repeatedly violated international law, with the Iraq invasion (which Kerry voted for) and numerous other instances. But even in this case, if you examine the Victoria Nuland assistant secretary of state tape, it s clear that the US was plotting a coup in the Ukraine and a coup is what happened.
So Russia is only the second country guilty of violating Ukrainian sovereignty and the Budapest Agreement in response to the previous violations by the Obama administration.
WANTED: MODESTLY ENLIGHTENED VERY RICH PEOPLE
(MERPs) for 2016
by RALPH NADER
During election season, how often do you hear the phrase vote for the least worst choice ? This philosophy has become the unfortunate mindset of too many American voters on their way to the polls. Just hold your nose and cast your vote and don t disturb the status quo.
What has this trend gotten us?
The Democrat and Republican two-party duopoly has led us down a road to a severely diminished and ineffective democracy. Look at the effects of the two-party grip on our elections the common funding of mainstream candidates by the same privileged commercial interests, the exclusion of independent or third-party candidates through ballot access hurdles and litigious harassment, and exclusion from the big-audience debates. The use of gerrymandering by Republicans and Democrats has created one-party dominated districts and eliminated political competition in many states.
Not voting at all out of sheer disgust is seen as a legitimate voting choice by many. There is, unfortunately, no binding None of the Above option on the ballot to allow for a no-confidence vote if the choice of candidates is unsatisfactory to voters.
Public expectations have declined to the point where belief is spreading that a reversal of this downward spiral is impossible. The two parties have created a walled garden they set their own rules, make their own laws, appoint their own judges and even brazenly force taxpayers to finance their extravagant quadrennial political conventions.
So, short of a mass popular resurgence, how can we break free of this destructive cycle of same-old bought and sold elections and tired rhetoric that ultimately leads to gridlock government?
One option is for a very wealthy, enlightened person with ample resources to self-fund a run at the presidency.
Such a modestly-enlightened billionaire could jolt our country s political oligarchy. Such an independent candidate would not have to waste time dialing for campaign dollars and cozying up to fat cats with their own profit-seeking agendas. Our theoretical wealthy candidate s resources would allow him or her to overcome the significant ballot access barriers erected by the two-party duopoly to prevent independent challengers.
The following suggested names are put forth in that First Amendment spirit and without any implication that I either support or oppose their particular candidacies or political beliefs.
My public positions are known or, if not, are easily retrievable, and probably run counter to many of the views and actions of those persons mentioned below. The overriding point, however, is that these people have the resources to overcome the many barriers to free speech, assembly and petition, they have some public interest concerns, activity, or charitable experience that bespeaks of civic engagement beyond their occupations or professions, and they have not been reluctant to enter controversial spaces.
So who are some of numerous possible candidates to undertake this endeavor?
What about Oprah Winfrey? Bill Gates?
Ted Turner? These three billionaires have the name recognition alone to make them major players in any presidential race, and they all certainly have the finances to do it.
What about Tom Steyer, hedge fund environmentalist, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and media executive Barry Diller?
What about wealthy businesspersons like Jerome Kohlberg (campaign finance reformer) and Steve Case?
What about well-known Washington D.C. philanthropists like David Rubenstein and William Conway?
Any of these super-rich people only a few examples from a list of twenty that I recently compiled running as a candidate could redefine the entry points to the presidential elections.
I sent this proposal to these super-rich people so that they can reflect on its aforementioned purpose.
Some of them will probably describe any candidacy by them as absurd, impossible, ridiculous and completely outside their most fanciful imaginations. But it is also possible that a few will recognize the strategy behind their selection, and consider playing a part at some stage of the electoral process in 2016 in opening up our closed, stagnant, deadening system. (See the full proposal, including the entire list of twenty, at Nader.org.)
By merely indicating their interest in being a candidate, these major players could put forces in motion that send a strong message to closeted incumbents and their conventional challengers inside the Democratic and Republican parties that stiff competition could be on the horizon. This alone could put some long-ignored or marginalized issues on the table.
Issues like reducing specific governmental waste and bureaucratic rigidities, fighting crony capitalism, reforming tax policy, supporting coherent investment in public works, confronting climate change, waging peace, promoting living wages, creating jobs, reducing poverty, implementing universal Medicare, transforming education, prosecuting corporate crimes, freeing shackled health and safety regulators, increasing access to justice, protecting civil liberties (including privacy), abolishing the Electoral College, and reforming campaign finance.
Until something gives, these issues will continue to be put on the backburner by a government that is not working for the people or posterity.
With deep disappointment over the Democrat and Republican parties at an all-time high, 2016 is an ideal time for new challengers to step up and change the two-way conversation in American politics.
Who will answer the call?
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.)
WILDLIFE FILM FESTIVAL reveals amazing animal life of rainforest
Third film of six-week series hangs around Brazil nut trees
The International Wildlife Film Festival is now midway through its six-week run.
At 7 pm on Friday, March 7, at the Ukiah Civic Center, the Fest will screen The Emerald Band (60 min.), a spellbinding account of how the very special conditions that exist in the Amazon rainforest have allowed vast colorful communities of animals and plants to evolve. One particularly extraordinary web of life centers on the Brazil nut tree. It is one of the mightiest trees of the Amazon, but can only survive with the help of a little rodent called the agouti, an orchid, and a very unusual bee.
According to producer/director Adam White, finding and filming the elusive animal life living in the dense vegetation of the rainforest was not easy. To help them shoot this film, the crew realized they needed one very particular creature: a scientist who had spent years studying the rainforest. White and his crew were helped by a scientist who was an expert on sloths, a bird guide who knew the territories of many of Panama s 978 species of birds, and a team of researchers studying Borneo s pygmy elephants who could get them within trunk-swinging distance of these incredible animals.
With the assistance of these experts and a great deal of patience on the part of the BBC film crew, audiences will get a unique and intimate look at this rainforest and its inhabitants. Also playing: Tarsier Tails (23 min.), an eye-opening look into the life of this tiny primate that today lives only in the islands of Southeast Asia. The films will show at the Ukiah Civic Center at 300 Seminary Avenue with mellow bluesy rock with Kim Monroe starting at 6:20 pm and the films beginning at 7.
Tickets are available at the Mendocino Book Company and at the door for a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for children. Proceeds from the film festival are an important funding source for the Redwood Valley Outdoor Education Project (RVOEP), a special program of the Ukiah Unified School District that provides outdoor environmental education programs to over 2,000 students a year. For a full program of the film series and more information about the RVOEP visit its website, www.rvoep.org
POLICE CALLS AS OF TUESDAY MORNING
A caller in the 600 block of Leslie Street (Ukiah) reported at 2:53am the suspicious noises were coming from the rooftop.
The responding officer determined that the noise was rain.
A caller in the 500 block of East Perkins reported credit card fraud.
A caller in the 300 block of Jones Street reported identity theft.
A 39-year-old Covelo woman was arrested for shoplifting at Walmart.
Wyldflower, 28, of Fort Bragg was arrested by the CHP on suspicion of driving under the influence.