Friday, October 20, 2017

Unpacking the so-called in the "So-Called Wine Country Fires"

Posted By on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 11:43 AM

A structure goes up amid the trees in eastern Santa Rosa,  Monday Oct. 9 2017 - TOM GOGOLA
  • Tom Gogola
  • A structure goes up amid the trees in eastern Santa Rosa, Monday Oct. 9 2017


“To name something is to own it,” is a statement typically flung around in semiotics dissertations and dopey Thomas Friedman editorials. But now the North Bay faces a sensitive and non-academic naming issue of its own. If to name it is to own it, who will own the fires?

So far it looks like “Wine Country Fires” is emerging as a potential consensus choice, but there’s a hedge for the moment in the media.

It’s too soon.

Numerous references to the “so-called” wine country fires” have appeared throughout the week in publications and online sites ranging from the local Press Democrat to the Mercury News to MarijuanaDoctor.com to the East Bay Times.

“The so-called wine country fires” has become something of a placeholder.

“So-called” by whom? I never called it that. Did you? Who is this patient-zero who first uttered the phrase “Wine Country Fires,” without the tactful restraint of a qualifying “so-called”?

An informal survey undertaken this week revealed scoffing, repulsion and shrugging fatalism in the face of “Wine Country Fires” as the culturally accepted catch-all for the series of fires that raged through the region the past couple of weeks.

People don’t seem to like “Wine Country Fires” much, and why is that?

In some measure, “so-called” is what you say when you don’t want to say the thing that “some people” are saying (or promoting)—but might, in the current scenario, be a little crass and awkward to freely unveil to a victimized and fire-stoked public.

Are they “so-called” for the time being because of generalized unease, or outrage, about how “Wine Country Fires” puts the wine industry first on the victim list in the rendering of the horrific events and their aftermath?

So-called or not, it is hard to argue against the potential marketing and promotional benefits to the industry should “Wine Country Fires” emerge as the consensus choice.

Before the fires, wine country was already taking a beating from environmentalists and the neighbors insofar that questions about “peak wine” were on the civic agenda in the grape-crowded hills and dales of Napa and Sonoma counties.

The built-in emphasis that Wine Country Fires puts on the destruction that met wine country may serve to extinguish some of that debate, given the industry’s critical role in the regional economy, which ripples into every imaginable corner of civic life—hotels, gas stations, restaurants, retail, the media.

Many residents and workers here in some way or another rely on the wine-tourism economy, so an advocate for “Wine Country Fires” might say that it’s just an accurate reflection and extension of an already-established regional appellation. It doesn’t leave anyone out, since everyone relies on or interacts with the wine country in some way or another.

Another might argue, “Wine Country Fires” is a vulgar appropriation of disaster for the purposes of marketing and promotion.

It’s a touchy subject. It may even be a so-called moment of truth.




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Friday, September 22, 2017

Breaking: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rules against Sonoma County in Andy Lopez federal lawsuit

Posted By on Fri, Sep 22, 2017 at 1:55 PM


A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled today that the Oct. 22, 2013 shooting of Andy Lopez by a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office deputy may have been an unconstitutional abridgment of Lopez’ rights, as it ruled against an appeal filed by Sonoma County and lawyers for the officer.

In its ruling, the panel sent the case back to the lower U.S. District Court and called for a jury trial to determine whether officer Erick Gelhaus should be entitled to qualified immunity in the ongoing federal civil rights lawsuit that followed the shooting. Lopez was 13 at the time of his death. As the court reiterated in its summary of the facts, Lopez was shot and killed on Moorland Avenue in Santa Rosa while carrying a plastic replica of an AK-47 with its bright-orange tip removed. He was also carrying a replica handgun.

Gelhaus remains an officer with SCSO as the case moves to a next and uncertain phase. For now, the ruling represents a rebuke to the Sonoma County Counsel’s office (despite the fact that the court was not unanimous in its decision).

The Ninth Circuit court issued its opinion after defense lawyers appealed an earlier ruling in the Lopez family’s suit against Gelhaus and Sonoma County. In their appeal of the lower U.S. District Court’s ruling, the county argued that the shooting was justified—and that because it was justified, Gelhaus ought to be entitled to qualified immunity in the proceedings.

In January, District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton rejected a county request for a summary judgment to dismiss the federal suit. She said it was an open question whether the shooting was justified, as she ruled against the county, which prompted the appeal.

The three-judge Pasadena circuit court heard the case on May 10, and two of the three judges essentially made the same observation that Hamilton did: “Defendants have not established that Andy actually threatened the officers with the rifle that he was holding.”

And today the appeals court ruled 2-1 that a decision over qualified immunity should be made by a jury—given that there are facts about the incident that are in question and ought to be sorted out by a citizen panel.

Judge Clifford Wallace, an appointee of U.S. President Richard M. Nixon, dissented from Richard Clifton and Milan Smith, both of whom were appointed by George W. Bush; Smith wrote the opinion. The 71-page ruling was issued this morning; what follows is a key summary paragraph that lays out the court’s majority view finding that a jury could rule that Lopez’ civil rights were violated in the shooting.

Emphasis added, since it’s critical to understand that the appeals court did not rule that Lopez’ civil rights were violated. As the judges noted during the hearing and in today’s opinion, the court’s role in this proceeding was to view the facts most favorable to the plaintiff (since Lopez was obviously not able to present those facts himself), and then make a determination whether there were outstanding questions that only a jury could resolve.

The opinion reads, in part, “Gelhaus deployed deadly force while Andy was standing on the sidewalk holding a gun that was pointed down at the ground. Gelhaus also shot Andy without having warned Andy that such force would be used, and without observing any aggressive behavior. Pursuant to Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989), a reasonable jury could find that Gelhaus’s use of deadly force was not objectively reasonable.

“The panel further held that taking the facts as it was required to do on interlocutory appeal, Andy did not pose an immediate threat to law enforcement officials and therefore the law was clearly established at the time of the shooting that Gelhaus conduct was unconstitutional. The panel held that ultimately, Gelhaus entitlement to qualified immunity depended on disputed facts that needed to be resolved by a jury, and the panel therefore remanded the case for trial.”

Translated, the court’s ruling means that the suit, Estate of Andy Lopez v. Erick Gelhaus; County of Sonoma, has been sent back to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, in Oakland, where (absent a cash settlement between the county and the Lopez family) a civilian jury would be be charged with sorting out the details of the officer-involved shooting incident.

A jury trial could represent another big-ticket budget item for Sonoma County, which has already dedicated more than $2 million to fight against the Lopez suit—and is so far 0-2 in court for all the money spent.

Repercussions from the shooting continue to bedevil Sonoma County and Santa Rosa as the SCSO has struggled to gain the trust of local Latino and police accountability groups outraged by the 2013 shooting. Former Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas, citing health concerns, retired from his post this summer as local activists set organized a recall election to remove him from office over support for Gelhaus, which include Freitas promoting him to sergeant in 2016.

Anxious for a "healing moment" and to move on from the Lopez shooting, Sonoma County officials now have to decide whether to appeal this Ninth Circuit Court decision, deploy further taxpayer dollars to defend Gelhaus and the county before a citizen jury at the U.S. District Court, or cut its losses and settle with the Lopez family.

Should the county choose the appeal route, the next step could be the United State Supreme Court. A more likely route, should the county chose the appeals option, is for county lawyers to ask for a re-hearing at the Ninth and seek a favorable “en banc” ruling where a panel of eleven judges would issue its opinion.




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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Giordano: DACA repeal undermines trust in communities we serve

Posted By on Tue, Sep 5, 2017 at 12:19 PM

In an interview with the Bohemian on Tuesday, Sonoma County's interim sheriff Rob Giordano says that Trump's decision to repeal the Obama-era DACA program, which protected the immigrant children of undocumented immigrants from deportation, would serve to undermine the very trust that SCSO is trying to build and maintain in the communities it serves. "We will not have any involvement with that policy," Giordano says. "On a human level, it undermines trust," he adds, noting that the harsh proposed rollout to destroy DACA, delivered by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, could make it less likely for "regular people in the community," to come forward and work with law enforcement in the shared pursuit of public safety.

Giordano's comments come as state lawmakers held a press conference Tuesday afternoon on the planned destruction of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which was implemented by Obama in 2012 and gave some 800,000 young people protections against deportation.

Trump's public hand-wringing over the issue saw the puny-fingered amoral wreck of a fake president punt to a right-wing revanchist congress that showed no willingness to work with President Barack Obama when he proposed the Dream Act as a legislative solution to a human problem—but is now charged with the task of working up a DACA replacement in the next six months, to avoid the appearance that this is all being driven by an obsession with demolishing the Obama legacy.

Sen. Mitch McConnell immediately praised Trump's move to end DACA so we'll see how that proposed legislative process works out.

Many if not most Dreamers were brought here by their parents when they were kids and only know life as residents, if not official citizens, of the United States. Under Obama, they were encouraged to come out of the shadows and participate in the program. In a widely publicized moment of bitter irony, one registered Dreamer, Alonso Guillen, was killed while rescuing Americans during Hurricane Harvey, almost at the very moment Trump was conspiring to give the young man the boot.



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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Kale-a-Bunga! Star Route Farms sold to the University of San Francisco

Posted By on Tue, Aug 8, 2017 at 10:20 AM

Legendary Star Route Farms sold to University of San Francisco for a cool and foggy $10.4 million - TOM GOGOLA
  • Tom Gogola
  • Legendary Star Route Farms sold to University of San Francisco for a cool and foggy $10.4 million

The “OG” of certified organic farming in California, Star Route Farms in coastal Bolinas, was bought by the Jesuit University of San Francisco this week, it was announced.
News of this sale had been rumored for months around the various gossip-chewing maypoles of Bolinas, and this week the university announced that the deal had indeed gone down, as of Tuesday July 8.
University spokeswoman Ellen Ryder says the purchase price for the farm was $10.4 million, “which included [the] property (land and buildings), equipment, business operations, etc.”
The university will use the 100-acre property as a teaching farm and community-outreach platform, and USF president Rev. Paul. J. Fitzgerald says in a statement that the purchase will enable and enhance “USF’s commitment to environmental and social justice,” central tenets of a Jesuit faith that encourages righteous activism in the name of Jesus and this hot and holy damaged planet of ours.
The purchase will save Star Route for future generations of would-be organic farmers and, as it forever protects a glorious swath of West Marin from a feared onslaught of big-ticket developers who would turn the Bolinas Lagoon-side sprawl into, God help us, a condo complex. That was the fear, anyway, as the aging Star Route founder Warren Weber reportedly spent the past several years trying to find an appropriate buyer.
Weber opened Star Route Farm in 1974 and runs it with his wife, Amy. It provides sustainable, organic vegetables—rows of kale are currently waving in the fresh foggy breeze of Bolinas—to restaurants and markets around the Bay Area.
Says Weber in a statement, “We are very pleased and honored that the University of San Francisco will continue the Star Route Farms legacy. We hope young people, entry level farmers, and farmers around the world who struggle with conventional agriculture will learn from the passion and expertise that USF offers this enterprise.”
Huzzahs were quick in coming from around the Bay Area, from some of the most prominent slingers of organic hash in the country. Alice Waters, the chef and author and founder of the estimable sustainable- and organic-only Chez Panisse in Berkeley, noted that “school supported agriculture is an idea whose time as come” as she praised Weber for continuing the operation and launching an “interactive educational program that can be a model for the rest of the country.”
Traci Des Jardins, the chef-owner of Jardiniere in San Francisco says she’s been buying Weber’s product for decades as she celebrated the new partnership. “The preservation and continuation of this visionary farm will play an important role in educating new generations.”
Looking ahead, the new owners expect a seamless transition to a full take-over of the farm. Current operations will continue, and Weber’s employees’ jobs are safe, assures the university.
Plans in the works include cross-disciplinary research, community education, “and programs focused on nutrition, biodiversity, sea level rise, and more.”
Star Route has indeed come a long way in its pioneering role as California’s first organic-certified farm. Weber’s farm started as a five-acre tract that utilized horse-drawn plows and, as the university notes in its announcement, was a pioneer in adopting “production and post-harvest technologies such as precision planters and hydro-cooling equipment which allowed it to bring the freshest possible product to market.
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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Pot, Politics and Priorities: Mike McGuire Announces 2018 Re-election Bid

Posted By on Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 10:19 AM

McGuire pledges to stick it to the anti-pot Trump regime. Cool.
  • McGuire pledges to stick it to the anti-pot Trump regime. Cool.
North Coast Second District State Sen. Mike McGuire announced this week that he’s running for re-election in 2018, via a press release that was sent out by a San Francisco communications firm.

The freshman Healdsburg native got the jump on a 2018 political season this week in a race that will presumably take place under the continued administration of the viciously anti-pot Trump regime—but this release gives somewhat of a short shrift to McGuire’s recent lead role in carving out a cannabis policy for California that squares up the state’s medical and recreational laws.

The release comes from Storefront Political Media, whose client base ranges from PG&E to 2018 gubernatorial candidate and former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

The announcement highlights McGuire’s work with Gov. Jerry Brown (let's not forget that Brown was a cannabis-legalization opponent) and lays out an impressive array of policy initiatives that McGuire’s had a hand in since he was sent to Sacramento in 2014: “Good jobs, strong public schools, affordable health care, better and safer roads, a pristine coast and a strong rainy day fund.”

Those priorities are not unique to North Coast voters—but many voters up here do put a priority on a cannabis policy that protects growers and the environment. And while the campaign statement mentions one of McGuire’s signature legislative achievements, a late-season budget bill rider this year that squared up the state’s medical and recreational cannabis laws while making sure legacy growers in his district don’t get squeezed out by “Big Cannabis”—it’s the last one on the list.

That placement seemed a little weird, to me anyway, given that it’s a legislative achievement that had a direct benefit to a uniquely North Coast constituency: McGuire’s district includes a voting bloc of many Emerald Triangle elders of the herb.

In press materials attending the rider bill that codified the combined medical-and-recreational bills and also protected those growers from corporate cannabis invaders, McGuire noted that his district provides an estimated 60 percent of all cannabis grown in the United States every year and that he had a particular responsibility to the industry given that eye-popping stat.

So is it fair to question whether the campaign is going to downplay McGuire’s cannabis achievement? After all, cannabis politics are still tricky business in a state and a region that supported legalization last year via Prop 64 but that has plenty of local detractors in the North Bay, along with the renewed call for a federal crackdown from the federal administration.

A sizable bloc of Sonoma County homeowners have been strident in their opposition to a blown-out local cannabis industry invading quiet neighborhoods. Marin County, which McGuire also represents, has vowed to keep storefront cannabis industries out of the county.

In the re-election campaign announcement, McGuire says he’ll fight the minority president Trump tooth and nail as part of his promise to North Coast constituents to protect the progress that’s been made to shore up the state’s economy and its environment.

And he’s taken a direct shot at Trump via a proposed bill that would force future presidential candidates to release their taxes as a condition of being granted a place on the California ballot. That’s an issue that polls very well, with surveys finding that up to 75 percent of voters believe Trump should release his tax returns.

But where’s the direct pro-pot pushback against a Trump administration that’s been out-front in its call to re-criminalize weed at the hands of Attorney General Jeff Sessions? It’s nowhere to be seen in this release.

But McGuire says not to worry and in an emailed statement from his office he says he’s all in on protecting Prop 64 and his constituents.

“I believe Californians know what is best for California,” McGuire said. I'm going to the mat to protect our progress from interference by the President and the Congress on many important issues. This includes defending the voters voice on approving cannabis regulations and taxes. There’s no going back and California will keep moving forward with the implementation of Proposition 64.”

Whew. Was a little worried there for a second.

And just as the senator was responding to my pain in the neck inquiry, his office kicked out a release that said he would be chairing a meeting, which was held on July 19, that was devoted to the potential “Green Gold Rush” that may come as the state sets out to implement the cannabis tax regime established under Prop 64. Onward into the breach.



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Friday, June 16, 2017

Cannabis Codes of California: An Instant Classic!

Posted By on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 at 12:01 PM

screen_shot_2017-06-16_at_12.07.45_pm.png


When I worked in New Orleans as an online reporter most of my work was in the criminal justice arena—police, the courts, the notorious Orleans Parish Prison. It was intense and difficult work at times and as a newcomer to that city around 2009 I arrived in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and all the horrible police-related stuff that went on after the storm. There was a built-in bloc of institutional and historical knowledge that I had to get up to speed on, and quick. The work was intense and difficult but it was never intimidating.

That was not the case when I was doing some freelance work down in New Orleans for the local daily, and got assigned to cover the annual Satchmo Festival in the French Quarter, the celebration of Louis Armstrong.

And let me tell you that I never felt, as a reporter, anything approaching the angst I felt when I sat down to write the fateful words, “Louis Armstrong” for publication for the first time, in a town where every other person is an armchair Armstrong scholar ready to pounce on any mis-reported fact about the jazz great. And the other person is a trumpet player or some other jazzbo steeped in the living history of New Orleans jazz.

I confess that I feel the same way any time I sit down to write a story in the Bohemian about cannabis in California (despite the fact that it's a fact that Satchmo was a total pothead): I feel totally intimidated. I am going to screw this up.

Why this horrible feeling? Same reason: There are thousands upon thousands of people in the state, many in the North Bay, with lots of deep history and knowledge in this area, and given the complicated and intersecting medical- and recreational-use laws now on the books—it’s hard to keep up! With so many moving parts and competing and/or complementary cannabis constituencies, it can be hard to get out of the weeds to see the weeds for the trees for the forest, to figure out what the news hook is—or something like that.

As with the Satchmo scholars, people in the North Bay are invested, and often heavily so, and for decades, in their chosen field of study and celebration. Every time I report one of these pot stories, I feel that same terror of being exposed as a canna-fraud should I misrepresent some crucial fact or bollix some niggling detail about a particular strain and who is responsible for it.

But not anymore! Enter Omar Figueora, Sebastopol cannabis lawyer and the recent author of the hardcover instant classic, Cannabis Codes of California.

With this handy, exhaustive and essential guide to cannabis-related law in the state, I’m no longer intimidated at the thought of reporting on the latest update on cannabis taxation, or distribution, or the black market, or the medical-community’s concerns, the mom-and-pop growers, the Big Cannabis operators—etc. I've got Omar's comprehensive Codes to see me through.

Cannabis Codes of California isn't a novel but it does have a built-in plot-line that lays out the law at various junctures in California social and political history. Omar gives a brief upfront history of cannabis in the state and the various moments where legislators weighed in on some aspect or another of the industry: For example, the 1996 landmark medical-use act, is reprinted in its (short but revolutionary) entirety, along with relevant penal codes, fish and wildlife code, health and safety, taxation—et al.

This is a dense and delightful legal-reference book whose content is delivered in a nice, big fat font size for ease of reading among elders of the cannabis community. It’s a timely and useful guide, a greatly informative cover-to-cover read (or casual flip-through) for anyone, myself included, who is intent on having a working, if not expert, knowledge of this fascinating and ground-breaking American experiment in cannabis freedom—and without fear of hearing from some know-it-all canna-crank from NORML if I screw something up in reporting on the latest twist and turn in the law. I got the law, or at least this estimable legal guide, on my side now—and you can, too. Cannabis Codes of California is available on Amazon.com.
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Unearthed FBI memo reveals agency quietly backed off from full investigation of Andy Lopez shooting—less than a week after announcing it on Oct. 25 2013.

Posted By on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 at 12:34 PM

The Bohemian has a story in tomorrow's epic Best Of issue that's taking a look at a new documentary about Andy Lopez made by Sonoma County filmmaker Ron Rogers. As part of the research for this story, an FBI memo from Oct. 30 2013 reveals that the agency re-classified its involvement in the Lopez shooting from a full investigation to the lowest-rung of FBI prioritization, an assessment. What's it all mean? The FBI weighs in on the memo in tomorrow's paper and says the agency they did their due diligence in the Lopez inquiry. Stay tuned for more. In the meantime, here's the memo. What do you think it means?

fbi_lopez.png

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Sheriff Freitas trip to D.C. cost Sonoma taxpayers $2,522.90. Plus: ICE and SCSO.

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 2:42 PM

Freitas addresses concerns over ICE raids in public letter.
  • Freitas addresses concerns over ICE raids in public letter.


Shannon Dower, Legal Staff Supervisor and Discovery Clerk with Sonoma County, followed up with the Fishing Report this week with some information about the cost of an early-February trip to Washington D.C., taken by Sonoma County Sheriff-Coroner Steve Freitas.

During the trip, Freitas met with then-U.S. Attorney General designate Jeff Sessions, along with five other California sheriffs. The trip was met with dismay among immigrant-rights advocates in the county, who have worked to protect the local undocumented population from the threat of mass deportation. At the same time Freitas was meeting with Sessions, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors was pushing the idea of the county-as-sanctuary—without actually calling it a sanctuary, given how loaded that word has become. Sessions has since been confirmed as U.S. Attorney General—and in the days following his confirmation, immigration agents have ramped up raids around the country and the state—but not in Sonoma County.

Dower says the Freitas trip cost Sonoma County taxpayers $2,522.90, broken down as follows:
Airfare: $595.60
Hotel: $1597.30
Meals: $300.00
Taxi: $30

(I’m waiting for further information from Dower and the SCSO about where he stayed and for how long.)

The information about the cost of his trip arrived as the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office released a public letter from Freitas this week, to regional media outlets, that it then withdrew and then resent a day later when the original letter was found to have contained some errant information.

The corrections in the second letter key in on the number of times the county informed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents when an undocumented immigrant was arrested and booked into the county lockup.

The first letter, sent on Feb. 22, reported that ICE had been contacted four times this year: one undocumented perpetrator at the Main Adult Detention Center was a felony suspect; two were in jail on domestic violence charges; and a third was locked up on a weapons charge.

The updated letter on Feb. 23 said—with “extreme apologies” from SCSO for pushing out the initial, errant info—that ICE had in fact been contacted 15 times so far this year, not four.

Here’s the updated breakdown of ICE contacts in 2017: Two felonies, three domestic violence, one weapons charge, four DUI, two felony DUI, one for violating probation; one for false identification/drug possession, and one who had committed assault and battery on another person.

What is the eventual fate of those inmates?

"We don’t release them to ICE custody," says Sgt. Spencer Crum, the SCSO public-information officer. "We simply advise ICE of the release date and if they pick them up, they pick them up outside of our jail after they are released. There is no 'transfer of custody.' We don’t know about it and don’t keep any records."

In the updated and corrected letter, Freitas also clarified the rules-of-engagement with ICE officials who are looking for a criminal suspect in the county—an entire paragraph that wasn’t in the first letter in any form, but which seems designed to set minds at ease when it comes to fears of random roundup of undocumented immigrants under the guise of a criminal investigation:

“Additionally, my deputies will cooperate with ICE agents if they are in Sonoma County looking for serious/violent criminals in the community. However, our policy is clear that my deputies working with ICE, and the ICE agents themselves, will not detain people solely for immigration violations while we are looking for the serious criminals. If ICE does not agree to these conditions then my deputies will not join them in the community.”

That paragraph could be viewed as an acknowledgement of SB 54, the Senate bill proposed by California Senate pro Tempore Kevin DeLeon that would make California a sanctuary state, and restrict local law enforcement participation in ICE raids. In part, the de Leon bill reads, “State and local participation in federal immigration enforcement programs also raises constitutional concerns, including the prospect that California residents could be detained in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, targeted on the basis of race or ethnicity in violation of the Equal Protection Clause, or denied access to education based on immigration status.”

At the same time, SB 54 would also restrict California law enforcement agencies from, “Giving federal immigration authorities access to interview individuals in agency or department custody for immigration enforcement purposes.” And yet it appears that SCSO may have done that on 15 occasions so far this year—gave ICE a heads-up on potential deportees, including a handful locked up on what appear to be non-violent, non-felony charges.

Freitas says in his letter that his main concern is the public safety of county residents, "regardless of your citizenship or immigration status."

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Sonoma Sheriff's Office responds to set of questions about Sheriff Freitas meeting with Jeff Sessions

Posted By on Wed, Feb 8, 2017 at 4:24 PM

Below, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office public-information officer Sgt. Spencer Crum addresses a set of questions posed this morning to SCSO about Sheriff Steve Freitas' meeting with AG-designate Jeff Sessions.
sessions_upside.jpg


BOHEMIAN: The Examiner story noted that the sheriffs who met with Sessions support him as the AG-designate and "back Sessions' stance on immigration." I did not see Mr. Freitas directly quoted in the article saying that so I am giving him the chance here to let our readers know whether he does support Sessions, and some clarity on what Mr. Freitas actually supports. For example, Sessions supports deportation of so-called Dreamers under DACA. What's the Sheriff's view on DACA?
SGT. CRUM: Sheriff Freitas believes in cooperating with our federal counterparts to keep communities safe. His viewpoints have widely been shared with the community and can be found on a video on the front page of our website. Sheriff Freitas has a policy that Sheriff Deputies cannot ask anyone about their immigration status and we do not assist ICE in immigration raids, based solely on immigration. If someone is committing crimes, we will do our best to enforce the law or assist any law enforcement agency.
BOHEMIAN: How did this meeting come about? Was Mr. Freitas invited to join the other Sheriffs at the request of Mr. Sessions? I'm curious about how this unfolded and who and what prompted a meeting of these six sheriffs.
SGT. CRUM: Sheriff Freitas will be back next week and can respond how the meeting with Sessions came about.
BOHEMIAN: What is Sheriff Freitas' view of any state, city, or county-wide effort to enact policies that generally fall under the rubric of "sanctuary." Does Mr. Freitas support any local, state or county efforts aimed at shielding or undocumented aliens from their potential interactions with ICE agents?
SGT. CRUM: directs to see answer to first question.
BOHEMIAN: What is Sheriff Freitas' view of Mr. Sessions long-held anti-cannabis viewpoints? Does he share Mr. Sessions view that cannabis should continue to be outlawed at the federal level?
SGT. CRUM: Sheriff Freitas doesn’t answer to Sessions’ views. Sheriff Freitas’ opinion has always been that marijuana possession, cultivation, use, transportation and sales should be illegal. This has been widely publicized through the Proposition 64 campaign and hasn’t changed.
BOHEMIAN: Who paid for this trip to Washington, and if this was a taxpayer-funded trip, what was the total cost of the trip to meet with Sessions? Did any other members of SCSO also take this trip, and was the sheriff part of any meetings with the president himself during this trip?
SGT. CRUM: This is taxpayer funded trip. No other members of the Sheriff’s Department accompanied him. President Trump addressed the group, welcoming them and expressed his support of local law enforcement entities. Sheriff Freitas did not have any meetings with the President. Cost hasn’t been determined as he is still on the trip. We have no responsive records.
BOHEMIAN: Was there any notification or advance notice, a press release or any public announcement, from SCSO, that announced Mr. Freitas' trip and visit with Mr. Sessions?
SGT. CRUM: No announcement was done ahead of time. Sheriff Freitas attends these conferences on a yearly basis.
BOHEMIAN: As elected Sheriff of Sonoma County, can the Sheriff provide a statement or comment that lays any of his specific concerns that may have arisen in the weeks since Trump took office, especially as those concerns might impact on LE in Sonoma County and/or in addressing issues where the county's undocumented population intersects with law enforcement?
SGT. CRUM: directs to response to first question.
BOHEMIAN: Lastly and very generally, why did Sheriff Freitas meet with the AG-designate given that he hadn't been confirmed at the time of the meeting?
SGT. CRUM: Sheriff Freitas met with Senator Sessions to discuss opportunities to keep our community safe and understand how local and federal agencies would best work together to achieve ultimate goal of community safety.

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Sonoma sheriff meets with Sessions in DC, questions ensue

Posted By on Wed, Feb 8, 2017 at 11:49 AM

further dispatches from upside-down America - U.S. TAXPAYERS
  • U.S. taxpayers
  • further dispatches from upside-down America
The conservative Washington Examiner reported this week that Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas was among six California sheriffs who met with Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions, with a headline that noted the sheriffs "back Sessions stance on immigration."

In fairness to Freitas, the story does not quote him saying that he backs Sessions' stance on immigration. It doesn't quote him at all, in fact. The article was mostly framed around county-level interactions with Federal immigration officials (ICE) and undocumented immigrants in the county lockup. And the elected sheriff of course has an obligation and a responsibility to understand the intentions of the incoming AG—regardless of party or the fact that the man in the White House is kind of a maniac.

The Examiner story appeared just as the GOP-ruled U.S. Senate was putting the gag on Elizabeth Warren for reading a letter from Coretta Scott King that highlighted Sessions' vote-suppression history and generally lousy attitude toward elder minorities. The Alabama Senator will likely be confirmed this week.

Here's a money quote from the Examiner story: "After their meeting, the sheriffs said they are seeking Sessions' support once he becomes attorney general as expected on Wednesday. That includes working together on several California-specific problems that are tying their hands when it comes to keeping illegal immigrants convicted or charged with major crimes detained in order to work with federal immigration authorities."

This morning I sent off a set of questions to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office public information officer, Sgt. Crum, seeking some further information about the trip undertaken by Sheriff Freitas. Here's the gist of what I sent, which was also forwarded to the public-record compliance administrator at the county.

* The Examiner story noted that the sheriffs who met with Sessions support him as the AG-designate and "back Sessions' stance on immigration." I did not see Mr. Freitas directly quoted in the article saying that so I am giving him the chance here to let our readers know whether he does support Sessions, and some clarity on what Mr. Freitas actually supports. For example, Sessions supports deportation of so-called "DREAMERS" under DACA. What's the Sheriff's view on DACA?

* How did this meeting come about? Was Mr. Freitas invited to join the other Sheriffs at the request of Mr. Sessions? I'm curious about how this unfolded and who and what prompted a meeting of these six sheriffs.

* What is Sheriff Freitas' view of any state, city, or county-wide effort to enact policies that generally fall under the rubric of "sanctuary" protections against federal immigration raids or other efforts directed at the undocumented? Does Mr. Freitas support any local, state or county efforts aimed at shielding or undocumented aliens from their potential interactions with ICE agents?

* What is Sheriff Freitas' view of Mr. Sessions long-held anti-cannabis viewpoints? Does he share Mr. Sessions view that cannabis should continue to be outlawed at the federal level?

* Who paid for Sheriff Freitas' trip to Washington, and if this was a taxpayer-funded trip, what was the total cost of this trip to meet with Sessions? Did any other members of SCSO also take the trip to D.C., and was the sheriff part of any meetings with the president himself during this trip?

* Was there any notification or advance notice, a press release or any public announcement, from SCSO, that announced Mr. Freitas' trip and the scheduled visit with Mr. Sessions?

* As elected Sheriff of Sonoma County, can the sheriff provide a statement or comment that lays any of his specific concerns that may have arisen in the weeks since Trump took office, especially as those concerns might impact on law enforcement in Sonoma County and/or in addressing issues where the county's undocumented population intersects with law enforcement?

Will keep readers posted once I hear back from SCSO.

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