Monday, June 25, 2018

AB109, Prop 47, Prop 57 and the Rest of the Story

A number of recent editorials in various publications and news stories, postings from law enforcement and community leaders, and postings of anecdotes from real California citizens have lamented the idea that California’s AB109, Prop 47 and Prop 57 “have not worked.” As a result, crime in California has increased, and the overall quality of life and culture of safety in our State has decreased. Well folks…..hold onto your britches….. I’ve got some news for you: The fact is that all three of these pieces of legislation HAVE worked. In fact, they have done exactly what they were intended to do. Anybody know what that is? Honestly (and with respect), I believe many of our community leaders either simply don’t know (because they never did), or they have forgotten what they were supposed to do. One more thing: Pundits on various sides of this whole issue/discussion speak to the presence or absence of responsibility of the current Jerry Brown Administration in allowing California to fall into this condition. The truth? The circumstances that precipitated this whole mess actually began in 1990 when George Deukmajian (R) was the Governor of California.

Here’s the rest of the story:

April 23, 1990 a class action lawsuit was filed by representatives of a number of California State Prison inmates. The suit alleged that mental health treatment in the California prisons was so poor that it constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit began to wind its way through court, and in June 1994 a judge found that the mental health treatment in California prisons was just as alleged, and that it did in fact violate the 8th Amendment. This lawsuit became known as the Coleman lawsuit.

A few years after Coleman was filed, on April 5, 2001 another class action lawsuit from within the California prison system was filed. Re-filed on August 20, 2001 with an amended complaint, this lawsuit, which became known as the Plata case, alleged that medical treatment in the California prisons was inadequate, also in violation of the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Gray Davis (D) was the Governor at the time this lawsuit was filed.

As the Coleman and Plata lawsuits wound their separate ways through the California court system, there became a sense by the respective courts that the inadequate medical treatment and the inadequate mental health treatment alleged in the two cases was as a direct result of prison overcrowding. At the time, the California Prison system was operating at almost 190+% of its maximum capacity.

July 26, 2007, the courts combined the Coleman and Plata cases, and they became known thereafter as the “Coleman-Plata” case.

August 4, 2009, while Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was Governor, the court issued an order for California to come up with a plan within 45 days to reduce the California prison population to 137.5% of its capacity. This meant that the State would have to figure out how to get 40,000 inmates out! A plan was submitted to the court on September 18, 2009, and on October 21, 2009 the court rejected the plan. The court then gave California until November 12, 2009 to come up with a new plan. The plan was submitted on November 12, the court eventually approved and accepted it, and it was entered into the court record as an order of the court on January 12, 2010. California had now been given a firm and clear order to get rid of 40,000 state prison inmates!

With the finalization of the order to reduce the prison population, the Schwarzenegger administration decided to appeal the court decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, asserting that the court’s order was unconstitutional. When the Supreme Court looked at the case, they, on May 23, 2011, essentially said that California needed to go do what the lower court had told them to do in January 2010. The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the lower court. It is important to note that by this time, Jerry Brown was now the Governor, and was only 5 months into his administration.

With the Coleman-Plata lawsuit having been in the courts in various forms for as long as 12 years (through the administrations of four previous Democrat and Republican Governors), and with the U.S. Supreme Court having issued a ruling on the case, the Jerry Brown administration was now left with the task of developing and implementing a plan to satisfy the court.

October 1, 2011, AB109 was passed into law after winding the legislative process and being signed by the Governor. Although the bill was called the “Public Safety Realignment Act,” its very specific intent was to significantly reduce the California prison population in order to meet the requirements of the court order…..PERIOD! It’s interesting to note the basic meaning of “realignment” in this legislation. In short, realignment essentially meant that responsibilities for prison inmates and parolees that had previously been the State’s would now be “realigned” and become the responsibility of the individual counties instead of the State. This meant that the counties, which were not equipped to keep long-term inmates like the prisons were, would have to come up with their own plans on how to deal with an increased jail population and how to deal with higher level criminals who would previously have gone to State prison. It was hoped that by 2014, it would result in the release of 25,000 inmates, and put California well on its way to compliance with the court order it was now operating under. Unfortunately, AB109 not only fell short of its goals by almost 10,000 inmates, the California prison population actually increased while the Coleman-Plata reduction of 40,000 inmates was being pursued. The court gave California an extension of two more years to reach the goal.

The impacts of AB109 have been widely and fairly accurately reported. It is in this reporting that we have seen the first round of failing to understand the real purpose of this piece of legislation. This had absolutely nothing to do with the efficiency of the State, saving money, efficient operations for counties, or anything else. This law was about nothing more then reducing the prison population to comply with a court order in a lawsuit that California lost!

As noted, AB109 did not do what California, which was currently operating under the Brown administration, needed it to do. There had to be another plan, and this awareness provided the genesis for the next step in the trifecta of debacle, Prop 47.

Prop 47 was pulled over as a con on the California voter. Entitled the “Safe Schools and Neighborhoods Act,” it really had no provisions whatsoever to make schools or neighborhoods safer. Relying on the fact that most voters won’t take the time to learn about all the propositions, and knowing that everybody has to want safe schools and neighborhoods, the authors (who represented the Governor) knew they simply had to get this passed in order to further reduce the prison population to be in compliance with the court order. All Prop 47 really did was to make the sentences for crimes that were previously felonies into misdemeanors. Again, the real purpose of this law: get more inmates out of State prison….PERIOD!! The voters passed Prop 47, and it became effective November 4, 2014. One of the noteworthy pieces of this new law was that it was retrospective (unlike AB109) in that it allowed for people who had already been sentenced for certain crimes to petition the court for resentencing based upon the new rules. Many in the law enforcement community viewed Prop 47 as nothing more than a “decriminalization of crime act” proposed for the sole purpose of reducing the prison population. Prop 47 would have expired November 4, 2017, but Governor Brown signed a different law that made it continue to be in effect until November 4, 2022.

Although a November 2105 study found that Prop 47 had reduced the California prison population by 13,000 inmates, with the ongoing ebb and flow of criminals going in and out of prison, there were still more that needed to be released, and the court-ordered 137.5% capacity of the prisons had to be able to be sustained. This circumstance then provided the basis for the final piece of the trifecta of debacle in the California criminal justice system; Prop 57.

Prop 57, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act, is just like AB109 and Prop 47 in that its primary purpose is to further reduce the California prison population, and to help sustain it at the lower level. Prop 57 was also sold to the voters with a complex campaign of misinformation. It did two significant things when it became effective November 8, 2016; 1) Allowed for early release of all State prison inmates; and 2) Allowed for “non-violent” offenders in State prison to be eligible for release earlier. Conspicuously absent from the public information about this proposition during the campaign was specific info about what constitutes a “violent crime” in California. If the voter’s knew the real answer to this question, there is a good chance they may not have passed it…… but, they did. In doing both of these things, again, the ultimate goal was to reduce the California prison population.

Soooooooo……we can banter about and back and forth about all of these pieces of law, and their impacts. But as we moan and groan (with appropriate legitimacy), its important to understand there is a “rest of the story.” Unfortunately, when it comes to issues like this the attention span of the typical citizen is very short. In this case, that short attention span leads to an absence of awareness of what has happened and why it has happened and resulted in us being faced with what we are as Californians.

I have tried to be as factual as possible in this, but I can’t help adding a bit of editorial spin here and there. Regardless, I hope y’all now have a greater sense of…the rest of the story.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Chico Has Been Stoned Long Enough and Needs ABS

            stoned – (stohnd)
1.              To be put to death by pelting with stones
2.              Not behaving or thinking normally because of effects of a drug or mind altering substance
3.              Subjected for long periods of time to the nonsensical, self-aggrandizing, egocentric, “I” and “me” oriented delusions of Chico City Council Member Randall Stone

ABS – (ay be es)
1.              Anti-lock braking system
a.     An automotive system which helps to prevent vehicles from skidding out of control and resulting in a costly accident with both financial and bodily harm
b.     Allows for the ability to maintain directional stability and reduces or eliminates the absence of control
2.              Anybody But Stone (Randall)

It has been said that we learn from our mistakes. Unfortunately, we have had to suffer for the last four years as we have worked through the mistake of electing Randall Stone to the Chico City Council. Fortunately, with this election we now have the ability to correct the mistake (by voting him out) and to reflect on what we have learned. Soooooooo, what exactly have we learned?

1.              Randall Stone is all about Randall Stone. To review his list of “accomplishments” one could quickly begin to wonder if he is in fact by himself on the City Council (it would take pages and pages of detailed facts to present the complete truth about Randall’s stated accoumplishments). I mean, it appears that he has taken credit for pretty much everything that has occurred in Chico during the last four years. Are there any other Council members who do anything? Well of course there are, but you wouldn’t know it from Randall’s representations. The truth is that Randall, with an absolute absence of humility, has a perpetual propensity to claim responsibility for things that others do all the time. Even fellow City Council members who are of his own political persuasion will quietly and privately lament about his rude habit of taking credit for everybody else’s work! It is especially noteworthy that in the 10th and 11th hours of this campaign cycle others besides Randall’s foes in City government have spoken out denouncing Randall’s absence of leadership in the Special Olympics and other areas. As the editorial staff of the Chico News and Review has pointed out: “There’s a fine line between noting your accomplishments, and sounding self-congratulatory. Stone crosses the line too often.” Not only has he crossed the line in sounding too self-congratulatory, he has also crossed the line (lied) about taking too much credit for everyone else’s work. A real leader give’s credit to those who got their hands dirty making things happen. Randall is clearly incapable of this!

2.              You know how every Fall you and the neighbors all around you begin to notice the aroma of herbal medicine in your neighborhoods? You know how worrisome it is when you think about calling the cops because you have a sense that nothing can be done, and you fear that your call may prompt an awareness among the dope growers that it was you that called? You fear retaliation? You know how when you did call the cops, they essentially told you there was nothing that could be done about the dope growers in your neighborhood that are affecting your quality of life? Well get this, Randall Stone is fully connected with that pro-dope community. He is the only Council member who has taken money from widely/publicly recognized members of the pro-marijuana/anti-marijuana-regulation community, and he even shared an office with the former president of what publications in the public domain have called “ the Butte Marijuana Grower’s PAC (political action committee).” Some would say this is an old connection before Randall knew better, but check out his Facebook page and his advertising….this marijuana guy, Andrew Merkel, is the author of a recent letter that Randall has been sharing which touts Randall’s alleged accomplishments. Honestly, I don’t believe for a minute that Randall is a stoner, pothead, doper, but he is absolutely connected to and taking money from the pro-marijuana community – the same community that is ruining the quality of life for many Butte County residents. BTW, all of the foregoing regarding Randall’s connection to the marijuana community is not speculation, rumor, or ugly innuendo. Rather, every bit of it is gleaned from public records or documents available in the public domain.

3.              I have spoken again and again about what a liar Randall Stone is. Let me elaborate: Like the Chico News and Review, he lies, misrepresents the truth, fails to present the complete picture or the rest of the story, and he loves to lob partially true kernels of info without fully providing context. Consider these most recent examples:

a.     At a recent candidate forum, Randall was asked about Laura’s Law, a law that allows for compelled medication and treatment of those who are seriously mentally ill (there’s more to it than that, but suffice it to say those who are aware of mental health treatment problems in communities are aware of it and how controversial it is). He did not know anything about it, and the emcee of the event briefly explained what it is. Upon hearing the explanation, Randall volunteered aloud, “ Oh ya…we’ve got that…we do that already….we do that at the place down on Rio Lindo.” The only problem is that we don’t have Laura’s Law in Butte County. Randall lied. But interestingly, as per his track record, he did so quite confidently. Therein lies the problem with this guy….because he is so confident in the lies he tells, the sheeple believe him.
b.     A video recently emerged of Randal misrepresenting the salaries of Fire Department employees at another candidate forum. In response, and in an apparent effort to defend himself, Randall posted another video on his Facebook page. I’m not sure what the point was because in both the old video and the new video, he blatantly misrepresented what Chico Fire employees make in pay. Again, he lied. Apparently, it’s his nature….and considering he uses one of his lies to justify another lie is terrifying!
c.      In a recent post, Randall claims that “80% of Chico police officers” have personal cameras “installed,” and then he goes on in his post to make it sound like he has been an active participant in making this happen and in developing the related policies. The truth is, nobody at the Chico Police Department has camera’s “installed,” nor is anyone equipped with them. Additionally, Randall has not been any part of any discussions that have taken place regarding the development of related policy. Again, he very confidently lied to give the impression that he is large and in charge!
d.   Interestingly, the linked article about everyone's favorite entertainer Kanye West kind of elucidates what kind of liar Randall is:


4.              Public safety – obviously, it is now popular for elected leaders in Chico to say they support public safety because our citizens have clearly made it a concern. Randall will tell you he supports public safety, but I would argue that he does not – at least in Chico. Here is what he will cite as evidence of his support: 1) He went to a conference on human trafficking within the last couple years, and then proposed a local ordinance that would impact some aspect of the issue. He neglects to tell everyone that human trafficking is and has been a crime, but he makes it sound like human trafficking will continue to occur in Chico because the Council majority shot down his proposed ordinance; 2) he went to an event where Butte County Probation officers were doing some really cool community service thing (which they really were), but he has yet to attend, participate or even regard in any way anything that the Chico PD or CPOA does in the community; 3) He claims responsibility for some sort of an ordinance related to banning butane honey oil (BHO) in Chico….and in doing so, he again disregarded the collaborative work his police chief was already participating in to insure uniform bans county wide on certain BHO precursors. Essentially, he claimed credit for the work of the police, but, by the way, the way he represents it you could easily believe that BHO was legal in Chico until he saved the day; 4) This one just galls me….did you see the random picture he posted a few weeks back of himself standing in front of a podium with a Chico PD logo on it? There is no question this was intended to create an impression that he is all about public safety. BTW, the picture is from a CPOA event for Special Olympics where he actually called the Chief and demanded to be involved – this guy is consumed by his ego! 5) In all his years on the Council Randall has done nothing but bag on public safety (specifically, Chico Police and Fire). He has made no effort to establish relationships in either department; he has made no effort to learn from anyone in either department about the inner workings, issues or how the respective industries work. Randall appears to have actually taken pride in bagging on both departments, making sure they maintain a standard of being sub-standard, and never giving anyone in either department credit for the good things they do. Be very clear, Randall Stone is not a friend of, nor does he support, public safety!

Here’s the bottom line: The things I have written about this guy in the past remain true (check out previous blogs),  he is a self-aggrandizing ego-centric narcissist, he is a liar and blatant misrepresenter of truth, he is in the pocket of the pro-marijuana movement in Chico (which continues to diminish our quality of life) and he does not support public safety. We need somebody on Council who can work collegially with the other Council members, who can work with public safety and who can be a credible leader and representative for the City. We’ve been Stoned long enough. Time for ABS (anybody but Stone).

Friday, October 28, 2016

Thoughts on Election 2016

I was hoping to present some profound analysis of the issues and candidates in this year’s election, but alas, time has escaped me so I’m just gonna share some very direct thoughts on what I think about those issues and candidates which are believe are the most significant or relate to public safety:

President of the U.S. – I can’t in good conscience advocate voting for Clinton or Trump. I could go on and on about the issues with each, but that would start its own debate. The bottom line is this: We have a current vacancy on the Supreme Court (the swing vote), and are likely to have others in the next 2-4 years. Vote for what you want the complexion of the Supreme Court to be. Are you a flaming liberal? Vote Clinton because she will pick a liberal for the current vacancy in the Court, and the next ones as well. Are you a staunch conservative? Pick Trump, and he will insure that the court is conservative, now and for the next couple of likely selections. Selecting a POTUS based on the character of the current top contenders? I can’t even think about it without getting a little bit of vomit in my mouth! Vote for what you want the complexion of the Supreme Court to be beyond the tenure of the next President.

U.S. Senator from CaliforniaVote for Loretta Sanchez. Kamala Harris is of the Jerry  Brown, Gavin Newsome, Clinton, Obama ilk. I cannot let go of the fact that Harris refused to seek the death penalty on a guy who shot two cops (killing one of them) in San Francisco a dozen years ago. Also, she is the one that approved the deceptive title of California’s Prop 57, which will release thousands from prison if passed. Sanchez is a Dem too, but she only converted after she could not get elected to office as a Republican. This makes me want to believe she is at least a bit more toward the middle of the road.

U. S. House of Representatives – YES, re-elect Doug LaMalfa

California Assembly – YES, re-elect James Gallagher

Proposition 57 – This is bad, bad, bad for California and it is opposed by every major law enforcement organization in the State. The sole purpose of this proposition is to reduce the California State Prison population. It is not about public safety and it is not about rehabilitation of prisoners as the proponents have indicated. AB 109 and Prop 47 did not do enough to reduce the prison population to a level that is satisfactory to the Appellate Court after California lost the Coleman-Plata class action lawsuit from inmates, so this is next in the Governor’s effort to comply with the order of the court.

Do you even know the history? Well, to make a long story short, two lawsuits by prisoners were combined years ago – one related to overcrowding and the other related to poor medical care in the prisons. After years of going through the courts and being appealed multiple times, California lost. The Governor needed to reduce the prison population very quickly, and he decided AB 109 was the answer. In short, this bill simply took a bunch of crimes that were previously punishable by imprisonment in State prison and “realigned” them to make them the responsibility of the counties (which reduced State costs, but increased county costs and provided no extra money). Essentially, the State said, “We are no longer responsible for these people.” It was a promise of AB 109 that serious, violent or sexual offenders would not be released. Thousands were subsequently released from State prison, including serious, violent and sexual offenders, but it wasn’t enough. Then came Prop 47. Prop 47 essentially redefined a whole bunch of crimes in such a way that they were no longer felonies or State prison eligible. It was sort of a “decriminalization of crime” proposition. This one was a gut puncher because it was blatantly misrepresented to the public as the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” The problem is that there were no provisions for either in the proposition. Hoodwinked, the California voters, who of course wanted safer neighborhoods and schools, passed it. Thousands more were released from prison, but it still was not enough.

Then came Prop 57. This Prop indicates that it will change the rules for whether or not juveniles will be prosecuted as adults, and it will change the rules related to sentence credits and parole for “non-violent felonies.” What the Proposition (and its proponents) don’t tell the voter is that, by law (Penal Code 667.5) there are only 15 categories of crimes that are considered violent crimes in California. By virtue of being excluded from the list, all other felonies are considered “non-violent.” Check out just a few of California’s “non-violent” felonies for which Prop 57 will allow early release from prison:

-                Assault with a deadly weapon (245 PC)
-                Corporal injury of a spouse – domestic violence (273.5 PC)
-                Solicitation to commit murder (653(f)b PC)
-                Assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer (245c PC)
-                Rape, sodomy, oral copulation of an unconscious person or by use of date rape drugs (various PC sections)
-                Many other violations that are inherently, but not legally defined as violent

The proponents also say this will save millions of tax dollars at the State level. This is because the State will again be saying they are no longer responsible for certain crooks – these people are likely to become the responsibility of counties. The problem is that its impossible to determine the anticipated millions of additional tax dollars it will cost counties. In truth, this will not save any money for taxpayers.

The bottom line? This proposition will release more very bad people from prison, and contribute significantly to the already increasing crime rate. VOTE NO ON PROP 57!!!!

Proposition 62 – This is all about the death penalty. Do you want to keep it like I do? If so, VOTE NO!

Proposition 63 – There is no state in the nation that has tougher gun laws than California. The additional laws proposed in this measure do nothing but target the law abiding citizen and diminish 2nd Amendment rights. Most importantly, this Proposition does nothing to enhance public safety or keep weapons and ammo out of the hands of crooks. As a sidenote, as written this bill will even make it so a young person who decides they want to put themselves through a police academy as an unsponsored recruit cannot buy ammunition in the volume needed to complete the program or train with the weapons they would utilize as a peace officer…..ridiculous!!! My thought? VOTE NO ON 63!

Proposition 64 – If passed, this Proposition will legalize recreational marijuana use in California. The problem with it is that when Lt. Governor Gavin Newsome and his dope smoking buddies promised 4 years ago that they would bring forward a legalization proposition that was comprehensive and addressed all of the associated legal and social issues, they actually failed to do so. I, like many, believe in the inevitability of the legalization of marijuana in California eventually (which I also predict we will ultimately regret)…..but…..this Proposition still leaves too many unanswered questions. Additionally, by the way, all this crap about the sick people needing their medicine is absolute BS. The sick people that really need marijuana can get it now. The truth is that all the chatter about increasing access by way of legalization is about money. Most of the illicit growers are making unreported, undocumented, untaxed money hand over fist. This Proposition will do nothing to reign that in. Also, the suggestion that legalization is going to result in lots of revenue for the State is also BS. This is a sham. I say VOTE NO ON 64!

Proposition 66 – This is another death penalty initiative. This one is intended to reform the currently screwed up death penalty process in California. It is supported by law enforcement, prosecutors and crime victims. My opinion: VOTE YES ON 66!


            Karl Ory - Nice older gentleman. Uhhhhh…..NO!

Sean Morgan - Part of the team that dug Chico out of the hole the last liberal majority left. RE-ELECT SEAN MORGAN!!

Tami Ritter - Tami has been an occupier of space at the front of the Council Chambers, and nothing more. Time for her to move on. NO!

Jeffrey Glatz - A newcomer to Chico’s political scene, not beholding to the nasty partisanship of Chico politics, sincerely passionate about doing what is necessary to support public safety…..I like this guy, and I think he would be great for Chico! VOTE FOR JEFF GLATZ!

Ann Schwab - I have not always agreed with Ann, and truthfully she disappointed me greatly when she was Mayor and did not assert herself more to support public safety……but……in her 12 years on the Council she has remained singularly focused on serving Chico in a very passionate way. She has not engaged the bitter politics or mudslinging, she conducts herself with dignity and she is in my estimation one of the most appropriate to be on the Council to insure that there are diverse political perspectives. I say VOTE YES FOR ANN SCHWAB!

Mercedes Macias - Seems to be a very nice, albeit unrealistically idealistic, young lady. Maybe in a few more years once she figures out how things really work in life and the world. NO for now!

Randall Stone - A well established narcissistic liar……more on him in a couple days….but in the meantime: NO, NO, NO….HE HAS GOT TO GO!!!

Lisa Duarte - I’m sure that she too is a very nice lady. Unfortunately, she is clueless. NO!

Loretta Torres - I am mindblown at all of those, including the Chico ER, who have endorsed her. Again, appears to be a very nice lady, but I just have a hard time taking her seriously. NO!

Jon Scott - Seriously? NO!

Jovanni Tricerri  - What a breath of fresh air to Chico politics….a demonstrated and respected community leader, not a puppet of partisanship, an experiential history that suits him well to represent and serve as a Chico City Council member!! VOTE YES FOR JOVANNI!

Measure J - Butte College Bond Initiative. Passage of this measure will support critical infrastructure repair, new facilities for welding, public safety and the sciences, and will help the college in their support of vets and the regional job market. This is a definite YES!

Measure L – This is brought to you by marijuana growers with illicit marijuana money, and it is all about them having more freedom to grow more weed to make more illicit money. The rules Butte County has work, and they work well. No changes needed. VOTE NO!

I have only shared my thoughts and opinions about measures or campaigns I have strong feelings about. You’re gonna have to figure out on your own which direction to go on condoms in porno videos, Chico Unified’s request for a bond and all the others. Good luck!

PS - Stay tuned for more on why Randall Stone needs to go……