12.26.2007

ER - 5/31/2006 Why we're blessed to have Paul Gallegos

ER Ltr Why we're blessed to have Paul Gallegos

To me, it is incredible that anyone would want to remove District Attorney Paul Gallegos from office, except those who want a DA who answers to corporate interests or law enforcement, instead of the public at large.

I speak as a newcomer to Humboldt County, although one who has visited here regularly for the past 20 years, who started camping in the redwoods down the road a ways in 1967 and who yearned to live here someday. I was attracted by the beauty of the area and the small-town feeling.

But when Gallegos ran for district attorney four years ago, something else attracted me: to live in a community that would elect a person like him to the top law enforcement job in the county. I was so excited that citizens would embrace what he stands for that I just knew that Humboldt County was for me, because it spoke volumes about the values of the community that I was now enthused to be a part of.

What impressed me about Gallegos was his belief that law enforcement should concentrate on serious crime and not waste time on minor marijuana possession cases, and his intent to treat everyone fairly and equally, regardless of whose toes he might be stepping on. I knew what he was talking about.

You see, I began a career as a newspaper reporter in 1957, and I have covered law enforcement and closely observed it when covering other areas. My experience has been that DAs almost always go along with what the police or sheriffs want. That is, when they bring a case to the DA, he or she prosecutes it, if at all possible. Sometimes the evidence is so glaringly weak that the charges are dropped, but, again, in my experience, very often cases are prosecuted despite weak evidence in order to stay on good terms with the police or sheriffs, who exercise great political power by virtue of their influence on the public.

Frankly, I have never run across a DA who would risk alienating that power bloc in order to exercise his or her independent, professional judgment on behalf of the public, whose interests don’t always coincide with law enforcement’s. I taught a journalism class at California State University at Northridge in the 1970s, and I took my students to discuss law enforcement with the deputy DA of Los Angeles County. I expected the standard line about what a great job we all do, but I still wanted them to see a live DA in action and get a feel for the type of people they would be covering.

But he said that his biggest problem was trying to prosecute cases with evidence poorly gathered and presented by police, and clearly he found it frustrating to have to deal with cases like that. How he coped, he didn’t make clear, but he let us know that it was a big test of his responsibility to act independently in the public’s interests and his sensitivity to not making the police look bad by dropping charges stemming from their investigations.

It’s easy to kowtow to the police, as Worth Dikeman has done and clearly did in attacking Gallegos for not yet deciding on charges in the Cheri Moore shooting — even though the police investigation of the incident is not complete. In light of that fact, what Dikeman did is outrageous and, to me, underscores his obeisance to the police and why the police organizations all back Dikeman.

In another very significant way, Gallegos also has exercised his principle of independence and his defiance of power when he sued The Pacific Lumber Co. for its alleged illegal logging practices, one of the most important and far-reaching legal and environmental actions probably in the county’s history. It triggered an ill-fated attempt, bankrolled by PALCO’s parent corporation, MAXXAM, to recall Gallegos. But he beat that payback for the PALCO suit, and the community stood by him and up to out-of-state corporate interference in local politics.

I hope the community now appreciates what a rare treasure we are blessed with in Paul Gallegos and will defy the corporate and law enforcement self-serving interests — who back Dikeman — to keep Gallegos as the DA who has an indisputable record of serving only one party, us the public, in a fair, objective and democratic way.

(Jack McCurdy is a McKinleyville resident.)
Copyright (C) 2005, The Eureka Reporter. All rights reserved.

My note: What a crock of sh-t. Gallegos' POS lawsuit didn't even make it to court, yet he is has just finished his Appeal ot the First District Court of Appeals. The filings are linked to on watchpaul.

This article is posted here as supplemental background material. For discussion and more information visit watchpaul.blogspot.com.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack. Just stick around these parts for a while and you'll figure out that if Paul's a blessing, we'd all be better off cursed.