9.07.2008

Times-Standard editorial

☛ TS Gallegos' case management
Humboldt County and its District Attorney Paul Gallegos have been through a lot together. When Humboldt County voters decided to oust longtime incumbent Terry Farmer in favor of the young surfer DA, it was with an eye on cultivating some fresh blood and adding an infusion of vigor and energy in the District Attorney's Office.

It was hoped that Gallegos would bring a new perspective, and challenge that status quo.

Gallegos has done that -- he's challenged entrenched powers, and he's certainly shaken up things in Humboldt County.

The problem, though, is that nearly every major undertaking by Gallegos has ended in failure, and with each of those has come a colossal waste of time and resources, as well as an increasingly divided community.

Whereas it was initially hoped that Gallegos would bring the community together by progressively representing the bulk of the county's voters, instead he has sponsored division and rancor in nearly everything he's touched.

The case against Pacific Lumber Co., which led to a huge battle in the community that included a recall effort against Gallegos? Dismissed. The case against Fortuna Councilwoman Debi August? The same.

The case against former Chief Dave Douglas and Lt. Tony Zanotti? Dismissed.

In hindsight, we fear that with each of these cases, Gallegos has tried to live up to his own progressive legend at the expense of critical thinking.

At times, Gallegos tries to hang major cases on legal minutiae, or rarely cited bits of law, that leave other legal scholars scratching their heads. Given the preeminence of his position, and the fact that he's gambling with public chips, he needs to proceed much more carefully in his remaining time in office.

He has wasted resources, directing attention away from his office's main task -- criminal cases -- and woefully divided the community with very little if anything to show.

This newspaper endorsed Gallegos in his last election, a decision we stand by given his competition at the time. But our support, and that of the public, will be much harder to earn the next time around, given that Gallegos sometimes appears too interested in attracting headlines for filing major cases that he almost invariably loses.

If he doesn't change his stripes and fast, a loss at the polls for Gallegos may be the only victory he can secure for the rest of us.


The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 09/07/2008 01:32:43 AM PDT

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