11.26.2007

Stoen raises his (redacted) head

Haven't heard much from Jim Jones former second-in-command/right hand man lately. But it's classic Stoen. "Christians have no luxury of dalliance now. We must take ground in the human-destiny battle forced upon us by the corporate juggernaut of hubristic Biotech." B

October 26, 2007

Sorry, But Your Soul Just Died - That’s the title novelist Tom Wolfe gave his 1996 article in Forbes ASAP on the threats posed by biotechnology, published two months before the Rubicon announcement in February 1997 that Dolly the sheep had been cloned.

In 2001, Francis Fukuyama wrote Our Post-Human Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution. Quoting Wolfe, Fukuyama describes the following “distinct possibility”: “The wealthy routinely screen embryos before implantation so as to optimize the kind of children they have . . . . Human genes have been transferred to animals and even to plants for research purposes and to produce new medical products; and animal genes have been added to certain embryos to increase their physical endurance or resistance to disease . . . . [Y]oung people begin to suspect that classmates who do much less well than they do are genetically not fully human. Because, in fact, they aren’t.”

Evangelicals have been slow to wake up to this threat to human dignity. While we have slept, environmentalists and pro-choice feminists have taken the lead in seeking a ban on human cloning. In 2003, however, while Congress was succumbing to the biotech industry’s spin machine, Charles Colson and Nigel Cameron took a first step, drafting “The Sanctity of Life in a Brave New World: A Manifesto on Biotechnology and Human Dignity.”

Signed by many Evangelical leaders, the manifesto seeks a “comprehensive ban on all human cloning and inheritable genetic modification” as well as the prohibition of discrimination based on genetic information. The manifesto quotes a prescient statement from C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man: “If any one age really attains, by eugenics and scientific education, the power to make its descendants what it pleases, all men who live after are ‘the patients of that power,’ slaves to the ‘dead hand of the great planners and conditioners.’”

In 2004, the drafters of the manifesto followed up with a lucid primer entitled Human Dignity in the Biotech Century. With chapters written by authorities on various issues in the biosciences, it presents a call to action, citing as a model William Wilberforce’s sustained and successful struggle against slavery in the British Empire.

Pro-life Christians need to do four things, say the authors. First, they need to expand the pro-life paradigm from “saving babies” to “human dignity.” This involves more heavy lifting in policy debates, including the hard work of becoming familiar with developments in biology. Second, they need to challenge nonstop the biotech industry’s “experts” who want no regulation by rules of ethics. In a twist that should not surprise anyone, BIO, the industry group, has named its chief lobbyist “vice president of bioethics.”

Third, pro-life Christians need to develop “durable collaboration” with environmentalists, progressives, and pro-choice feminists (who dread the commodification of women) against the increasing number of libertarians who want biotech business to be free to do what it chooses. And fourth, say Colson and Cameron, pro-lifers must work with the Council of Europe, UNESCO, and other international organizations for a “universal instrument” in bioethics.

As to philosophical approaches, there are, says Fukuyama, three springboards to action on biotech issues: religion, utilitarianism, and human nature. Evangelicals and Catholics will be motivated by the conviction that humans are created in the image of God. The biotech industry will rely on utilitarianism. Conscientious secularists, says Fukuyama, can be reached through a revived understanding of the laws of (human) nature.

In sum, the biotech future of compromised human beings is upon us. Christians have no luxury of dalliance now. We must take ground in the human-destiny battle forced upon us by the corporate juggernaut of hubristic Biotech.

—Timothy Stoen, Attorney
Mendocino, California
Online at The Center for Public Justice (ooooh! another nice sounding name!) -An independent organization for policy research and civic education, whose mission is to equip citizens, develop leaders, and shape policy.

Yeah, Stoen is just the kind of guy you want shaping public policy.

hat tip: RS

11.21.2007

Schectman files

Men charged in gun theft to appear in federal court May 5
by Christine Bensen-Messinger, 4/27/2006

Family and friends gathered at the Federal Courthouse in Eureka Wednesday afternoon to attend the detention hearing of the four men arrested and charged in connection with the theft of more than 50 firearms and other weapons from Grundman’s Sporting Goods store in Rio Dell.

The men, Rio Dell residents Jesse James Green, 25, William Eugene Mulligan, 19, and Justin Garcia, 23, and Fortuna resident Jacob Allen Hines, 20, were arrested last week.

Green, Mulligan and Hines were arrested at Hansen’s Truck Stop on Sandy Prairie Road, after investigators received information that they were planning to be in the area to sell several of the stolen firearms.

During the arrest they were found to be in possession of six of the guns, including one that was later determined to be loaded.

Garcia was arrested without incident in the 500 block of First Avenue in Rio Dell. Warrants served at the residences of Garcia and Mulligan turned up approximately 50 firearms, three crossbows, two compound bows and other evidence that appeared to be from the burglary.

The four men are charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office with one count of possession of stolen firearms. If convicted the men face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

During the hearing, based on pretrial reports and arguments from Tracy Brown of from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Judge Nandor Vadas ruled that Mulligan could be released to a halfway house with a unsecured $100,000 bond with two co-signers, Hines was granted permission to be released to a halfway house or residential drug rehabilitation program with a $50,000 unsecured bond with one co-signer and Garcia was granted release with a $50,000 bond with one co-signer.

The reason for Mulligan’s higher bond was because Brown argued that Mulligan was an admitted gang member in Sacramento who an informant said was planning to flee the area prior to his arrest.

“Mr. Mulligan …appears to be the leader of this gang,” she said.

Brown said there are also approximately six guns that are still unaccounted for and she said she was concerned that he knows where they are and would take possession of them if he is released.

She said he also has a juvenile rap sheet, which his attorney Neal Sanders said consisted of all “minor matters.” Sanders also stressed that Mulligan has not been arrested since he became an adult.

“Your client is only 19,” Vadas said.

Sanders said that means he had two years with nothing on his record.

Brown said she was also concerned about information she received that earlier in the day Mulligan got into a fight with another inmate at the jail and officers had to use pepper spray to subdue them.

Sanders said he did not feel comfortable discussing that matter because he had not heard about it before Brown mentioned it.
“Jail is a violent place … and a lot of times the defendant has to respond,” Sanders said.

Green was the only man involved in the incident who was not given the option of posting bond.

Brown said Green has two felony convictions, two probation revocations and two outstanding bench warrants, as well as being in possession of a loaded gun and attempting to flee when officers arrested him.

She said she was also concerned that Green was a transient who did not have a permanent residence. His attorney Lawrence Killoran said that was not completely true. He said Green’s mother said he could stay with her and that she would co-sign his bond.

“I request that he be detained,” she said.

Vadas declined Killoran’s request for his release because he said he agreed that Green poses a flight risk and danger to the community.

Eureka-based attorney Manny Daskal represented Garcia and Arcata-based attorney Steven Schectman represented Hines.

The four men are scheduled to appear in federal court in San Francisco May 5, at which time federal prosecutors will be appointed.

Copyright (C) 2005, The Eureka Reporter. All rights reserved.

11.17.2007

Judge views taped evidence in dependent abuse case

Judge views taped evidence in dependent abuse case
11/17/2007

The case against a caregiver standing trial for a second time in connection with the 2002 death of a woman in Orick could once again come to rest on a single videotape — whether or not the tape is admitted as evidence at trial.

Joseph Pierre Rollin stands accused of dependent abuse, with the additional allegations that he proximately caused the death of the victim, 42-year-old Joi Henderson Wright, and that he inflicted great bodily injury on her.

The videotape viewed Thursday by Superior Court Judge Timothy Cissna was recorded in an Austin, Texas, police station on April 10, 2003, more than a year after Wright’s death, and contains almost four hours of discussion between Rollin and Chris Cook, then a senior investigator for the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office.

Deputy DA Ben McLaughlin filed a motion to admit most of the tape — all but the first 25 minutes, during which Rollin spoke openly about Wright’s death before he was advised of his constitutional rights to remain silent and speak with an attorney.

The entire statement was admitted during the first trial in 2004, when Rollin was convicted of the enhanced felony charge. But an appeal court found in December that the trial court erred in its admission of the non-Mirandized portion of the statement, and that the error may have affected the verdict.

Cissna must now decide whether any portion of the tape can be admitted, with attorneys presenting opposing motions about whether the Mirandized statement should be considered “tainted” by law enforcement’s initial failure to read Rollin his rights.

Wright, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, is believed to have died on or around March 19, 2002, in a condemned trailer in Orick.

Records on file at the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office indicate that at the time of her death she weighed only 60 pounds and was swathed in a soiled disposable diaper.

Stacks of motions filed by Rollin’s lead attorney, Barry Morris, suggest the defense plans to argue that the defendant did the best he could to care for Wright, but did not receive the assistance he needed from the county.

Rollin made comments to that effect during the taped interview, but it’s impossible to know whether the tape would ultimately help or hurt his defense.

While it contains no overt admission of responsibility for Wright’s death, the tape shows the defendant making a number of unsettling comments that could leave a negative impression on jurors.

To avoid exposing prospective jurors to details of the case that might not be admitted at trial, The Eureka Reporter is not publishing specific statements from the tape at this time.

Admissibility motions continued Friday with Cissna viewing the conclusion of the videotape, during which an Austin detective joined Cook and Rollin in the interview room, questioning the suspect aggressively for a few minutes until Rollin asked to speak with an attorney.

The interview ended abruptly there, but the conversation soon resumed — this time captured on Cook’s voice recorder as Rollin was being transported back to jail.

Rollin continued talking to Cook, who told the suspect two or three times that she could not talk to him unless he again waived his rights, which he agreed to do.

The story he told then differed substantially from his earlier statements, but Rollin persisted in his denial of responsibility for Wright’s death.

He appeared in court last week with his previously long hair cut short and his dark glasses replaced with clear reading glasses.

It remained unclear when opening arguments would begin. Cissna, apparently frustrated by the pace of proceedings, reminded the attorneys that they had told him the trial would end by Christmas.

“From my observation, the chance of that happening is absolutely zero,” Cissna said. “We haven’t even finished the first motion.”

Jury selection is expected to resume Nov. 26, after Thanksgiving, but two additional weeklong recesses are scheduled in December.

Copyright (C) 2005, The Eureka Reporter. All rights reserved.

11.16.2007

Rackauckas

Decline in CAST numbers unrelated to District Attorney
by Kay Rackauckas, 6/3/2006

My name is Kay Rackauckas. For 12 years, I proudly served as a deputy district attorney in Orange County. For several of those years, I was a sexual assault/CAST prosecutor. I am also the mother of a 5-year-old son.

Over the Memorial Day weekend I was vacationing in Trinidad and became intrigued by the District Attorney’s race. I have never met either candidate. After hearing Mr. Dikeman’s allegations regarding District Attorney Paul Gallegos’ handling of the CAST unit’s performance, I did some research and felt compelled to write to your paper.

Orange County was among the first counties in California to implement the CAST protocol. CAST is an acronym for Child Abuse Services Team. When a child claims to have been molested, he or she is not interviewed like an adult but is questioned by an expert. The child is placed in a room with the interviewer, while the police and deputy district attorney simply observe from behind one-way glass. Often the interview is taped so the child does not need to repeat the same subject matter to multiple questioners.

The interviewer uses props such as dolls and other toys to help the child describe the events of the crime. The deputy district attorney uses this interview to assess whether the crime occurred, as well as the child’s credibility and maturity level.

Other than observing the interview, the prosecutor does not participate in this interview process, nor does the District Attorney’s Office originate the investigation of these molestation crimes. Rather, the sheriff and police departments bring these cases for possible filing to the DA. CAST is an effective tool to determine whether a crime occurred and/or whether a child will qualify as a witness in the courtroom. Additionally, this process is invaluable for the child’s emotional well-being.

Mr. Dikeman has attacked District Attorney Gallegos by alleging that he has understaffed the CAST position. Mr. Gallegos has one prosecutor assigned to this position at all times. Before Mr. Gallegos’ tenure, the previous District Attorney had two part-time deputy district attorneys assigned to it.

Mr. Gallegos, in fact, appears to have devoted the lion’s share of his resources to staffing this position. There are only 12 prosecutors in the entire Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office. Mr. Gallegos operates with a $3.5 million annual budget and prosecutes approximately 100 sexual assault cases each year.

By comparison, Orange County, which has one of the finest CAST programs in the nation, also has just one deputy district attorney assigned to the CAST position — in a county of over three million people.

Unlike Humboldt County, Orange County enjoys a $90 million annual budget and has over 245 prosecutors. In 2005, we performed 568 CAST interviews with one deputy district attorney participating. We filed 352 sexual assault felonies last year with a 94 percent conviction rate. The Orange County CAST prosecutor performs other duties, such as filing and trial overflow, in addition to observing the child interviews.

If Orange County’s CAST unit is a model for the nation, and we have determined over the years that one prosecutor is sufficient to staff our much larger CAST program successfully, how can Mr. Dikeman assert that Mr. Gallegos is neglecting his CAST unit? Mr. Dikemans’ allegations are baseless and without merit. They are obviously politically motivated and designed to mislead voters, who are unaware of how such units actually operate.

Lastly, Mr. Dikeman claims this neglect has caused a decline in the number of sexual assault cases prosecuted. Let me remind you: the police and sheriff departments are the ones who originate these cases. Any decline in the numbers is unrelated to the District Attorney’s CAST unit. It might be that because of budget cuts, fewer police detectives are working these investigations — or there are fewer crimes being committed because repeat offenders have received longer prison sentences under the three strikes law. This may very well be due to effective prosecution during Mr. Gallegos’ tenure.

Mr. Gallegos is obviously devoted to vigorous prosecution of child molestation cases, and is devoting major resources to the task. Because of his dedication and effectiveness in prosecuting child molesters, my husband and I wholeheartedly endorse him for re-election.

(Kay Rackauckas’ husband, Tony Rackauckas, is the District Attorney of Orange County.)

Copyright (C) 2005, The Eureka Reporter. All rights reserved.

11.10.2007

TS - Manila development withdrawn for revision

Manila development withdrawn for revision

Robert Riley's plans for a Manila housing development are off the Humboldt County Planning Commission's calendar for now.
Riley's agent Jesse Buffington said the planning commission didn't feel they could make the findings to approve the project, which came before the commission Thursday night.

Buffington said it's not known at this point when the project will be back, but the revised version will have fewer houses. The exact number hasn't been worked out yet, he said.

Riley had proposed a development of 17 parcels on an 8.5-acre plot off Peninsula Drive. The proposed plan was to build two-and three-story homes on roughly 3.5 acres of the total property, with the balance dedicated as open space to be owned and maintained by the Manila Community Services District.

Petitions were circulated in opposition to the project, with particular concerns about the density and its impact on the nearby dunes.

In other business, the commission also approved establishment of a commercial stable for up to 160 horses on Eel River Drive in Loleta. The applicant, Jerry Boots, was seeking to legitimize an existing 40-horse stable established without permits and to expand the facilities to accommodate an additional 120 horses, according to the county staff report. The approved expansion will include 20 additional outdoor horse runs, a 10,000-square-foot barn for indoor stables, a 10,000-square-foot area and an 11,250-square-foot barn for hay and supplies storage, a home and a compost building.

A requisite for the project was a manure management plan to prevent contamination of wells serving five homes downhill of the stables, according to the county staff report. After the state Regional Water Quality Board rejected the applicant's first plan in 2006, a second effort was approved this year.

11.03.2007

TS - Timber ordinance extension on tap

Timber ordinance extension on tap

Humboldt County supervisors will consider on Tuesday extending a controversial moratorium on issuing permits to build on land zoned for timber production.

The original emergency ordinance was spawned after the Pacific Lumber Co. submitted a plan to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Corpus Christi, Texas that called for building 136 high-end homes on 22,000 acres of timberland as part of reorganizing. But the decision to put the moratorium in place has caused a major backlash from many timberland owners, while supporters say it was necessary and remains so.

The staff report reads that since the board isn't meeting on Nov. 13 or Nov. 20, it has to consider the extension before the ordinance runs out on Nov. 24. The report recommends an extension for 90 more days, while the planning commission works to hammer out permanent rules for building in the timber production zone, or TPZ.

If it's not extended, county staff maintains, issuing building permits received during the gap between the new ordinance and the initial temporary ordinance could have substantial unintended consequences.

Attorney and landowner Bill Barnum said the county's initial reaction to Palco's plan was irrational and ill-advised. He said if there is a rush for building permits, it's the county which is to blame.

”You can't tinker and alter market conditions and then marvel when people respond,” Barnum said.

Staff has scheduled a Forest Review Committee hearing to discuss a slate of changes to the existing county policy on building in TPZ. That meeting, on Wednesday, will go over proposed changes to make it necessary to show that any home built in TPZ must be necessary for managing the forest; must have water storage sufficient to carry the residence through dry periods and prevent drawing down streams; and is compatible with adjacent landowners' habitat conservation plans, among others.

Those recommendations would be passed to the planning commission for a Nov. 15 meeting. The Board of Supervisors would hear the commission's recommendations on Dec. 11.

In the meantime, said the Humboldt Watershed Council's Mark Lovelace, there is a concern that people may take advantage of the gap to file permit applications that wouldn't meet the standards set by future ordinances.

”There's a concern that people will file anything to have their foot in the door,” Lovelace said.

Any extension would have to pass on a 4-1 vote.

There is little question that the emergency ordinance first adopted weighed heavily in the mind of bankruptcy Judge Richard Schmidt. The judge said he'd watched the proceedings and noted the county's concern over such a major development by Palco, and questioned whether the company's restructuring plan was feasible because of it. On Oct. 23, he directed Palco and its creditors to go into mediation and negotiate a plan.

But opponents of the ordinance have rallied against what they see as a subversion of the general plan process, and have planned protests, including one today at the courthouse. They claim that the emergency rule cheats landowners of their right to due process.

IF YOU GO:
What: TPZ proposed emergency ordinance extension
Where: Humboldt County Courthouse
When: Tuesday, 1:30 p.m.

IF YOU GO:
What: Board of Supervisor's regular meeting
Where: Humboldt County Courthouse
When: Tuesday, 9 a.m.

John Driscoll The Times-Standard 11/03/2007
John Driscoll can be reached at 441-0504 or jdriscoll@times-standard.com.

The Points in the HumCPR ad

Here's what the ad says -

By enacting an "Emergency Ordinance" that bans new home construction on TPZ lands in Humboldt County, you have abused your power and attacked our rural culture.

You claimed an "emergency" as a ruse to cheat us out of our constitutional right to due process, and you took over $1 Billion of property without justification or compensation.

You held two public hearings with little or no advance notice where you rushed to eliminate a long-standing right to build a home on private property.

You interfered with the dream of home ownership for many individuals who were in the process of achieving a piece of Humboldt County's rural culture. You are ignoring the county and state laws that for 30 years have allowed a residence on TPZ lands.

You have pre-determined the outcome of the ongoing General Plan Update process by dictating a policy that eliminates home building on TPZ lands.

You claimed the ordinance is in response to an "emergency." There is no emergency. Nobody can build a home on TPZ lands without your building permit oversight and regulation - and you know that to be true. You were already in control of the process.