Monday Morning Memo for February 5, 2018
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Criminal Reform Efforts
Prop 47 proponent acknowledges likelihood of felony consequences will deter crime
In a recent interview, District Attorney George Gascon offered this comment regarding the car break-in epidemic in San Francisco: “What’s driving the numbers is understanding the likelihood of consequences is very low.” Of course, that obvious conclusion applies to California’s rising property crime rate in all categories, not just car break-ins.
After Proposition 47: Crime and no consequences in California
California’s Proposition 47 downgraded a variety of “non-serious, nonviolent crimes” that had previously been considered felonies to misdemeanors. These include shoplifting, grand theft, receiving stolen property, forgery, fraud, and writing bad checks. As long as the total value of the stolen property is under $950, only a ghost of an offense has occurred.
California’s criminal-friendly law treats hitting cops, human trafficking, some rapes as ‘nonviolent’
Since 2011, California voters and lawmakers have passed several laws that go easier on nonviolent criminals. The benefit is that the laws reduce the prison population, but they also downgrade some crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and from violent to nonviolent. Since the laws were passed, crime has gone up.
Drive begins to halt early release of violent inmates & address public safety threats
Thanks to the professional fondler and amateur Governor, Arnold, and the old and confused Guv Brown, with unions financing ballot measures to keep hardened criminals on the streets instead of in prison, California has a crime wave. Of course, the political police chiefs have been caught lying when they say crime is down.
Less time for drug crimes reduces race disparity
California’s voter-backed reform that downgraded certain crimes to misdemeanors four years ago has helped shrink the disparity in the criminal-justice system between blacks and whites in San Francisco, according to a new study. Proposition 47, approved by California voters in 2014, reduced certain drug-possession felonies to misdemeanors and raised the threshold for felony theft and check forging from $450 to $950.
Atmosphere of concern prevalent at meeting on North Beach homeless issues
Residents of San Clemente, mostly from the North Beach area of the city, gathered at a meeting on Jan. 24 at Casino San Clemente to address issues related to the homeless population in their area. The meeting was hosted by the North Beach Community Association (NBCA) and Orange County Sheriff’s Department personnel from San Clemente Police Services.
California court expands reach of limits on juvenile charges
The California Supreme Court on Thursday expanded the scope of a ballot measure that limits prosecutors from charging juveniles with crimes in adult court. The court ruled unanimously that Proposition 57 applies to cases that were pending before it took effect. The justices said voters appeared to want to extend the measure as broadly as possible.
Trial court must probe reason for inmate’s non-appearance by telephone-C.A.
The Court of Appeal for this district has reversed a Domestic Violence Prevention Act restraining order forbidding an inmate to contact his ex-spouse by any means of communication because the judge did not investigate whether his failure to appear telephonically at the hearing on the application was willful.
Teachers can picket, protest on school district property, US court rules
A school district can’t prohibit striking teachers from picketing or carrying signs on school property, a federal appeals court says. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled Friday that a school district in southern Oregon violated the free-speech rights of teachers during a strike in 2012, and the rights of a high school student who was barred from parking in a school lot because her back windshield had a sign supporting the teachers.
Ninth Circuit withdraws 2015 opinion, reverses result
A three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday withdrew its Sept. 21, 2015 published opinion in which the majority denied qualified immunity to a medical doctor who caused the detention of a three-month-old boy whom she suspected was beaten by his parents, and issued an unpublished memorandum opinion coming to the opposite conclusion.
Portions of government surveillance manual are privileged
The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California will receive only portions of two documents relating to the Department of Justice’s electronic surveillance and tracking devices used in criminal investigations, not the entire documents as ordered by a district court judge, under a ruling yesterday by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Young immigrants who can’t afford lawyer will have to go without, court says
As hundreds of thousands of young, undocumented immigrants await possible deportation orders from the Trump administration, a federal appeals court ruled Monday that minors who enter the country without authorization have no right to a lawyer provided by the government.
EFF asks California court to reverse ruling that could weaken open records rules, impede public access to government records
State agencies in California are collecting and using more data now than they ever, and much of this data includes very personal information about California residents. This presents a challenge for agencies and the courts-how to make government-held data that’s indisputably of interest available to the public under the state’s public records laws while still protecting the privacy of Californians.
La Puente man charged with setting fires to LA, Pasadena churches
A 25-year-old La Puente man was charged Monday with setting fires at multiple houses of worship, including in Pasadena and Los Angeles, the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office said. Christian Michael Garcia faces 20 felony counts, including 13 counts of vandalism of religious property and three counts of arson of a structure. Prosecutors also tacked on hate crime allegations.
Prosecutors ask appeals panel to affirm former Sheriff Baca’s obstruction of justice conviction
Federal prosecutors Monday urged an appeals panel to affirm former Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca’s conviction on charges of obstruction of justice and lying, crimes for which the ex-lawman is facing three years behind bars. In a 122-page appellate brief filed with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, prosecutors argued, among other issues, that U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson was correct in barring jurors from hearing evidence of the ex- sheriff’s Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis.
Prosecutors widen inquiry into possible conflicts of interest involving Santa Monica politicians
Prosecutors reviewing possible conflicts of interest involving Santa Monica politicians have widened their inquiry to include architecture work performed at a home belonging to a school board member and a city councilman, a spokeswoman with the district attorney’s office confirmed this week.
Abused Southern California sibling went to college, didn’t seek help
The community college student with a page-boy haircut was quiet, never drew attention to himself and earned A’s semester after semester. Despite ample opportunities, he apparently never divulged the sickening truth that his home was a veritable torture chamber. Authorities say the student, now about 26, was the eldest male among 13 siblings who were held captive in their Southern California home by their parents, David and Louise Turpin.
Palmdale mayor faces felony corruption charges
Five new counts have been added to a criminal complaint alleging that Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford conspired with two consultants to receive more than $60,000 a year from a nonprofit and not disclose the income on economic statements, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
Teachers union teams with Black Lives Matter to organize students against school police
The union that represents Los Angeles public school teachers will co-sponsor a rally next month with Black Lives Matter, the ACLU, and other groups that have been organizing students against the district’s police force. Titled “Making Black Lives Matter in Schools,” the demonstration on February 24 will feature a live performance by Common, a multi-faceted entertainer who has been using his musical talent to promote radical reforms to California’s criminal justice system.
Here are the states that spend the most (and least) on public safety
Every state has an obligation to help its towns, cities and counties fund local police department, fire department and department of corrections budgets. But the more states spend on public safety – which also includes protective inspection and regulation services – the less they have to spend on everything else.
Black Lives Matter ‘Youth Vanguard’ organizes classmates to ‘abolish’ police in Los Angeles public schools
Members of the Black Lives Matter Youth Vanguard are organizing their classmates to dismantle the police department that protects more than 640,000 students enrolled in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) – the nation’s second-largest public education system.
Los Angeles adapts to drunk vagrants with ‘SOBER Unit’
The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) recently launched a mobile sobriety unit to transport heavily-intoxicated vagrants from city streets and sidewalks to a short-term recovery center where they can sleep off their over-indulgence under the supervision of health professionals. It is one way the city is adapting to its rapidly increasing homeless population.
Getting on Brady list ‘like a scarlet letter’ for Boulder County law enforcement officers
Ismael Aldana, an off-duty Boulder County sheriff’s deputy, boarded a plane in Chicago on April 12, 2014. But before the airliner could take off for Las Vegas, he was confronted by federal agents. They’d found more than $70,000 in U.S. currency in his baggage, intercepted before it could be loaded into the aircraft’s belly.
“Troubling”: Video shows deputies dropping homeless man off on street
Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino introduced a motion Wednesday calling for a full investigation into an incident in which a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy was recorded dropping off a homeless man, who displayed signs of mental illness, on the streets of San Pedro. Some believe he was dumped there, CBS Los Angeles reports.
Federal report shows property crime rise in SF, decline in US
San Francisco was overcome by a wave of car break-ins and other nonviolent offenses during the first six months of 2017 as the nation experienced a downturn in property crimes, according to a new federal report. The FBI released the report on Tuesday showing a 2.9 percent drop in property crime nationwide at the same time as a 21 percent uptick in San Francisco.
After a baby suddenly dies, a 911 call from USC’s former medical school dean sparks detectives’ interest
The man who called for an ambulance at an Altadena apartment last fall had the calm and direct manner of one familiar with healthcare emergencies. “Baby not breathing,” Dr. Carmen Puliafito, former dean of USC’s medical school, told a 911 dispatcher shortly after sunrise Oct. 5. “Are you there at the location right now?” the dispatcher asked. “No,” the doctor replied. “My girlfriend’s there.”
Beverly Hills to install more than 600 TV cameras around city in effort to curb crime
Beverly Hills plans to add to the more than 600 closed-circuit television cameras in the city. The expansion plans include placing cameras in residential neighborhoods in an attempt to “thwart crime, apprehend suspects and increase public safety,” Beverly Hills Police Department Lt. Elisabeth Albanese said.
Mental illness or brain injury? Driven by voices to commit crime, Titus Young is in prison but still believes he could play in the NFL
The former NFL wide receiver with “FEAR GOD” etched on his biceps and his mother’s name written over his heart opened the worn black composition book with a faded newspaper photograph of retired NBA player Metta World Peace taped to the cover. Titus Young was once classified among the most dangerous inmates at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles and spent most of his days in lockdown. In early 2017, he started to write.
San Francisco grappling with car burglary to save image as attractive tourism city
San Francisco, a major resort city on the U.S. west coast, is grappling with an epidemic of vehicle break-ins that have gone rampant for years, which could undermine the city’s tourism prospect. The rising number of smash-and-grab car burglaries have been plaguing popular San Francisco neighborhoods in recent days, which has frustrated both tourists and many locals alike.
DNA cracks cold-case killing of local official’s brother: Sex-offender suspect pleads not guilty
A 62-year-old man accused of fatally stabbing the brother of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas in 1981 pleaded not guilty Friday to a murder charge. Michael Anthony Locklin remains jailed without bail and is due back in court March 9, when a date will be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for him to stand trial.
More than 500 arrested, dozens saved in statewide crackdown on human trafficking
A statewide operation last week aimed at reducing human trafficking resulted in 510 arrests and more than 50 adult and juvenile women having been saved, authorities said Tuesday. “‘Operation Reclaim and Rebuild’ was a three-day assault on one of the most heinous crimes of modern times: The sexual exploitation of another human being for profit,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell.
Accused teen triggerman in Redlands shooting could be charged as juvenile
The decision to charge a 17-year-old as a juvenile or an adult in the ambush killing of a Redlands man will be left up to the juvenile courts, officials said. “Pursuant to Proposition 57, our office can no longer direct file on a juvenile in adult court,” explained Chris Lee, spokesman for the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, in an email.
Santa Monica tries a balancing act as it deals with burgeoning street vending along beaches, pier
The sun set over the Santa Monica Pier as Ana Ortiz sold fresh fruit to tourists and kept an eye out for police. The 21-year-old and her mother, uncle, cousin and other family members earned a living in the city as street vendors. “It’s like a regular job,” she said. “But you get paid the same day.”
Metro to consider distributing pre-loaded TAP Cards to the homeless, domestic violence victims
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is looking at providing pre-loaded TAP cards to individuals experiencing homelessness or domestic violence victims throughout the county. “It is next to impossible to put your life back together if you don’t have basic access to transportation,” stated County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who sits on Metro’s board.
LA Sheriff’s civilian oversight panel gets mixed reviews
When the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted a year ago to create the first-ever civilian panel to monitor the troubled L.A. Sheriff’s Department, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said a new era had begun. “This commission is going to be a game-changer in the county,” she told a news conference packed with activists with a long list of complaints about the nation’s largest sheriff’s agency.
La Cañada man, a former sheriff’s psychologist, sentenced to life for sex crimes against children
Michael Dane Ward, a 46-year-old La Cañada man charged in 2016 with 10 felony counts related to the molestation of two young children, was sentenced Tuesday to life in state prison, according to a statement released by the district attorney’s office. In August of 2017, jurors found the former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department psychologist guilty of four counts of lewd acts on a child, two counts of forcible lewd acts on a child under 14, three counts of oral copulation of a child 10 years or younger and one count of sodomy with a child under 10, according to the statement.
California’s new lethal injection plan already faces hurdles: Drugs barred from import or execution use
California moved a step closer to resuming lethal injections this week but still faces significant hurdles before inmates can be executed. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has unveiled a revised single-drug method of execution, allowing the state to use either pentobarbital or thiopental in a single infusion to put condemned inmates to death.
As Disney-LA Times spat resolved, paper’s prez never revealed she lived with Disney VP
Last September, the Los Angeles Times published a blockbuster report detailing Disney’s questionable business ties with the city of Anaheim. In response, Disney barred Times writers from advance screenings of its movies and, according to a former Times employee, froze them out of interview availabilities.
Kirk in as LA Times crisis cools a bit
Jim Kirk, the new (again) top editor at the Los Angeles Times, arrived Monday afternoon from his home in Chicago and spoke to a staff gathering in the newsroom hoping to calm everything down. He called for everyone to pull in the same direction and vowed to participate in fair and open negotiations with the newsroom’s new guild on a first contract.
Tronc is building a shadow newsroom full of scabs, L.A. Times staffers fear
As lunch was winding down Wednesday in the Los Angeles Times cafeteria, Bruce Upbin, one of several newly hired but as-yet-unannounced assistant managing editors, sat alone at a table speaking a little too loudly into his headphone mic. Upbin was a mystery to much of the newspaper’s staff, which had just voted to unionize the week before.
TMZ stuffed Suge Knight’s pockets with dirty money
In another tawdry case of checkbook journalism run amok, the gossip web site TMZ paid $55,000 to cohorts of Marion “Suge” Knight for sealed court evidence, a financial windfall that Knight and his associates apparently earmarked for the bribery of witnesses in the pending murder case against the former rap music mogul.
What has the Judiciary learned Since Kozinski?
A scant few weeks ago, a former 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals law clerk named Heidi Bond posted a note on her professional website raising serious questions about the scope of confidentiality a former clerk owes to a life-tenured federal judge. In addition, Bond made allegations about the actions of her own former judge, including inappropriate sexual behavior and emotional abuse.
Why are taxpayers on the hook when government workers misbehave?
When The Bee reported Friday that the state had paid out more than $25 million in the last three fiscal years to settle sexual harassment-related cases – most of it taxpayer money – many readers wanted to know why. “This is the most disgusting use of taxpayer dollars we’ve ever seen,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. “There is no way taxpayers should be on the hook for this.”
Despite anti-theft features, thieves still seek out iphones
If you are guilty of walking the street or riding the bus cell phone in hand, headsets on, oblivious to your surroundings, this is a wakeup call. Despite mandatory new anti-theft features installed now on all new phones, we discovered iPhones are still the number one item that thieves love to steal. We went undercover on one of the busiest black market street corners in the Bay Area at 7th and Market streets in downtown San Francisco where you can buy or sell just about anything.
California Senate OKs bill to protect immigrants at state buildings
The California senate approved a bill Monday that addresses concerns of federal immigration agents targeting schools and courthouses as part of enforcement practices. SB183, introduced by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens (Los Angeles County), would require immigration enforcement agents to obtain a federal warrant before detaining, questioning or surveilling an individual in a state building.
John Chiang takes down website attacking Gavin Newsom in California governor’s race
John Chiang’s gubernatorial campaign has taken down a website attacking front-runner and fellow Democrat Gavin Newsom as part of a broader overhaul of the campaign’s strategy, according to a spokeswoman for Chiang. Spokeswoman Kate Chapek said the campaign decided to take down www.gavinfacts.com indefinitely as it revamps its messaging and approach in the run-up to the June primary.
Dennis Zine, ex-LA councilman with a colorful past, enters Assembly race
Former Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine is running for the California Assembly seat thrown open by the Matt Dababneh sexual-misconduct scandal, saying he’ll stand up for west San Fernando Valley taxpayers frustrated by a lack of problem-solving in state government. Zine, 70, whose last run for office was a losing bid for L.A. city controller in 2013, has been a registered Republican but said he’ll campaign for the Assembly as an independent.
California is collecting so much of your money it can’t save it all
California’s swelling budget reserves are approaching a point where the state by law can’t save any more money – but don’t expect a tax rebate. The state is quickly filling up its so-called rainy day fund, the budget stabilization account voters created in 2014 when they passed an initiative that forced lawmakers to save money in flush years. Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal puts the state on pace to fill it with $13.5 billion by July 1, 2019, but the milestone could come even sooner.
High taxes spark sticker shock for marijuana customers in California
A picture recently posted to Instagram shows a receipt for a shopping trip to Cookies LA, a licensed marijuana store in Maywood. The receipt shows that the shopper bought an ounce of high-end cannabis, the maximum allowed under state law and enough to roll perhaps 40 joints. His pre-tax tab came to $450. After taxes, the final bill was $587.25. That receipt, and the posting on social media, are signs of the wave of sticker shock being felt among cannabis consumers.
How police are checking for pot DUIs
After nearly one month after the legalization of recreational marijuana in California, officials are still trying to determine the best way to enforce the law and keep dangerously stoned drivers off the road. The Los Angeles Police Department has been experimenting with a device that can detect Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and six other drugs in saliva with an absorbent swab. Right now, the department only has four of those devices, NBC4 media partner KPCC reports.
After California pot stockpiles go up in smoke, what’s next?
Like many pot shops in California, the Urbn Leaf in San Diego bulked up its inventory before legal sales began on Jan. 1, stockpiling enough marijuana to last for months because no one knew what the era of legal pot would bring. The shop, along with others involved in the state’s fledgling cannabis economy, are now concerned that too few operators have been licensed to support a pot pipeline of state-approved growers, distributors and retailers.
California marijuana purveyors go mainstream, except for the sacks of cash
Bay Area marijuana retailers who went fully mainstream this month were forced to act like gangsters anyway as they rumbled down freeways and across bridges in sport utility vehicles and sedans and, in at least one case, a Tesla, bearing cash piled in shopping bags and suitcases.
Carpenter v. United States privacy case pushes Supreme Court to decide Fourth Amendment protections of cell phone metadata
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in what may become one of the defining consumer privacy cases of our generation. The central question in Carpenter v. United States asks whether the government violates the Fourth Amendment by accessing an individual’s historical cell phone locations records without a warrant.
It’s not just union dues, it’s collective bargaining: Looking to states that banned them as post-Janus crystal ball
The Supreme Court is about a month away from hearing a pivotal case that could upend decades of public sector union policy. Lawyers in the case, Janus v. AFSCME, have made their arguments to the court on First Amendment grounds – that forcing teachers and other public employees to support union-advocated policies they disagree with violates their right to free speech.
Wireless industry: Court orders needed to block prison calls
As prison officials combat contraband cellphones in the hands of the nation’s inmates, a wireless trade group says court orders should be required to shut down the devices. In a letter sent earlier this month to the Federal Communications Commission, Patrick Donovan of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association wrote that judicial review will provide a way to shut down the devices while not interfering with legitimate cellphone calls nearby.
Has the rate of California’s prison spending nearly tripled since 1970?
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown reeled off statistics on California’s prison spending during his final State of the State Address after a total of 16 years as governor. Brown, who has followed a federal court order to reduce the state’s prison overcrowding, warned legislators at the state Capitol not to simply pass more crime laws but instead consider a holistic approach to criminal justice.
Armed parolee on motorcycle arrested after 120 mph pursuit in High Desert
A wanted Victorville parolee carrying a loaded Smith & Wesson .357 revolver was arrested Saturday, Jan. 27, after he crashed his motorcycle at the end of a 120 mph pursuit, the California Highway Patrol said. The pursuit unfolded in the High Desert community of Landers, north of Yucca Valley. The chase started, the CHP said in a news release, when an officer clocked Wesley Ezekiel Burrows, 36, riding his yellow-and-black Suzuki GSX-R motorcycle at 83 mph in a 55 mph zone south on Highway 247 (Old Woman Springs Road).
Californians are buying fewer guns since Trump took office
California gun sales dropped to their lowest point in five years during 2017 as potential buyers felt less anxiety about gun control measures. About 870,000 guns were sold in California during 2017, down by 450,000, or 35 percent, from 2016, according to a Bee review of new FBI instant background check data. In 2016, gun buyers raced to buy rifles equipped with “bullet buttons.”
Illegal immigration and crime
Conventional political wisdom holds that there will be some sort of amnesty for illegal immigrants who came to the United States as minors. The Obama administration’s original DACA memorandum applied to individuals who came to the United States before the age of 16, but where the line would be drawn in any permanent DACA deal remains unclear.
Why $1.4 million payouts top annual pension list
A half-dozen Los Angeles police and firefighters received pension payouts of $1 million or more in 2016 – two reaching $1.4 million, according to Transparent California, a watchdog database listing individual state and local government employee salaries and pensions. The big payout is from collecting both pay and pensions for up to five years before retirement.
Riverside County pension costs to steadily escalate over next decade
Riverside County’s pension costs will steadily escalate over the next decade, without any certainty as to whether the nearly $3 billion in unfunded liabilities now darkening the financial landscape can be pared down, according to a report that the Board of Supervisors will review Tuesday.