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Judging the Death Penalty

June 30th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

homiciderates.gif

On Monday, the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice—the committee created by the California State Senate
to study, among other criminal justice issues, the state of the death penalty in sunny California—released a 117-age report saying that the system is pretty much screwed. (Okay, I don’t believe they used the term “screwed.” They said “deeply flawed,” but that qualifies as an equivalent.) California has the biggest backlog of cases in the nation, noted the report, and for all intents and purposes, the system, said the commission members, is close to collapse.

Among the commission’s recommended remedies is the suggestion that California drastically cut the number of crimes that qualify for the death penalty, leaving only multiple murders, the killing of law enforcement officials or witnesses, and the torture of murder victims—all heinous enough.

(I should mention here that, in the past, the commission has made recommendations
on other issues, most of which have resulted in bills being passed by the California state legislature—that have all been vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. But whatever. We won’t go there for the moment.)

This recommendation comes right in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decision
to disallow the use of capital punishment for child rapists who do not kill their victims. Then, a few months before, the Supreme Court ruled that the state of Kentucky, specifically, could resume using lethal injection in order to execute those on the state’s death row. But the court wrote the decision in such a way that it clearly opened the door to other legal challenges.

So, change of some sort is in the wind
with regard to the death penalty. But what kind of change?

At least one facet of the newest SCOTUS rulings is examined
in this Washington Post Op Ed written by Cass R. Sunstein and Justin Wolfers, two of the nation’s top researchers when it comes to the matter of whether the death penalty is truly a deterrent or not.

Here’s how the Op Ed opens:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in crime and punishment, Death Penalty, State government | 14 Comments »

Innocent Until Proven…Yadda, Yadda, Yadda? Evidently Not.

June 30th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

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A couple of alarming articles surfaced over the weekend that are must reads. First there was the piece from next week’s New Yorker in which Sy Hersh reveals that the Bush administration is stepping up covert operations in Iran. And then there is the following:

**********************************************************************************************

In the last few years I’ve seen the principle described below
play itself out in criminal court a couple of times, but always assumed I must be witnessing some kind of awful legal anomaly. Evidently not—according to a fascinating and horrifying article in Sunday’s Washington Times about how previous arrests and charges—even if the charges have been dropped or the defendant has been entirely acquitted—may still be used against a defendant when he (or she) is being sentenced for another crime. The concept is called “acquitted conduct enhancement” (nice little euphemism that) and it is yet another example of how we have gone completely off the rails with much of our sentencing policy in this country.

Here’s the opening to the article.


Nearly a year to the day before he resigned
, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales told his prosecutors to pursue the death penalty against a D.C. man accused of running a violent drug gang in Washington known as the “Congress Park Crew.”

But after at least four years of investigation, eight months of testimony and eight weeks of deliberations, a federal jury ruled the government couldn’t prove there was a criminal conspiracy called the Congress Park Crew, let alone that its purported leader, Antwuan Ball, 37, had committed any murders.

Jurors acquitted Ball in November 2007 on every count
of a massive racketeering, drug conspiracy and murder indictment except a $600, half-ounce, hand-to-hand crack-cocaine deal in Southeast Washington seven years ago.

Perhaps thinking his freedom was at hand, Ball cried when the verdicts were read
. Indeed, under federal guidelines, he could expect to be released within a few years.

However, federal prosecutors are asking U.S. District Judge Richard W. Roberts
to send Ball to prison for 40 years, basing their request partly on charges that were never filed or conduct the jury either rejected outright or was never asked to consider.


And then there’s an amazing letter
from one of the jurors on Ball’s murder/conspiracy trial. Here’s an excerpt [after the jump]. But please read the whole thing.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Courts, crime and punishment, criminal justice | 18 Comments »

My Name is Richard. And I’m Homeless…… Part III

June 30th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

homelessness-america.gif
(Just to be clear, this photo is not of Richard)

As long as Richard continues to send me journal notes,
I’ll continue to post them. I received the installment below about five days ago. It seems it was written a few days prior to my receipt of it. (I guess at first, Richard sent it to the wrong email address and discovered the error only when it bounced back.)

While I know Richard is bit embarrassed by having the painful details of his life online,
I think the fact that people have been so responsive, while it doesn’t magically solve his problems, seems to have at least leavened his mood. (Am I right about this Richard?)

I also want to note that Richard’s is another one of those stories
that would be difficult or impossible to run in a conventional news outlet—-mainly because I have not yet verified all the details of his situation.

I’ve verified some facts. For instance, I talked to a girl working at the front desk of the Motel 6 where Richard has stayed in the past and, although she didn’t know Richard’s name, when I described a few of the details I knew about him, she placed him right away and told me far more than propriety probably should have allowed.

(I have no reason to disbelieve Richard’s story. So, in the absence of proof, I am going with my best judgment. I assume readers are making up their own minds.)

In any case, here is the next journal installment,
with still more to come:


I find myself with some time to do some writing
so I’m sending you this. Not at “MOTEL SIX” anymore. I’ll let you know when you can call me.

I’m tired all the time. Whether that is because I’m on the streets and can’t get enough sleep or whether i’m just depressed all the time and want to sleep all the time is a matter for conjecture. One thing is sure. When I had a car I could rest by flinging the seat back and sleeping more comfortably. That’s gone now. So is time. I depend on the buses – and fortunately for me OCTA [Orange County Transit Authority] is pretty good— and that means trying to get anywhere takes some time. It takes even longer given my health. I should be tethered to an oxygen tank. But that is impossible. What that means is my “saturation levels” are marginal. Doctors warn me it could affect my vitals (including oxygen to the brain. (Can you say “mini-stroke?”) And my ability to walk is circumscribed. I’m lucky to go a block. Therefore I limit myself to what is directly off the bus stops. So my world is quite small.

I lug my belongings around in two bags. I’m looking for one of those carryalls with a handle but will have to wait till next month when I have some money. I use the net time to catch up on news. My biggest worry is becoming totally detached from the world. Street people are not too informed.

Sorry but I’ve got to say it.
I miss meaty conversations. I miss people. On the street there is little chance for social interaction.

And then four days later.


I asked someone to E-Mail this to you
but it looks like you didn’t get it. I bounced back into hospital for two weeks. More infections. And just to add to the fun my “Oxygen Saturation Rate” – i.e. the amount of oxygen my lungs are getting, has dropped just below 90%. That means I need outside help. Great! The doctor warned me that serious repercussions would arise from not using a tank or a concentrator. Try lugging that around! So the priority now is finding a room where I can stash all this. Still at level one of Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs,” I’m afraid. I’ll try to add to the journal. Think I’ll discuss my debilitating bouts of depression. All I want to do is curl up and sleep and never wake up. This is really bad. It is hard to be lectured to and have no real way to do anything about it.


PART IV ON WEDNESDAY

Posted in Homelessness, Public Health, Street Stories | 4 Comments »

Free Speech is So Scary

June 29th, 2008 by

    Mistaken identities: Charles Black is not the enemy

Unless you’re driving in your Prius 5 mph under the speed limit on your way to buy incense and tofu, you accept as fact that Charles Black uttered an unspoken truth of the campaign trail when he said a terrorist attack would be good for John McCain’s candidacy. That’s like saying $6 gas would be good for Obama’s campaign.

If you’re upset by Black’s unvarnished truth, try doing something worthwhile with your outrage and go read Dr. Seuss to the old folks at the rest home until your blood pressure stabilizes.

I would kill for the day when we can speak openly and honestly without fear of retribution from the right or the left and all the people who fall in between.

For more evidence that we aren’t there yet, read the delightful piece today by L.A. Times campaign reporter Jim Rainey on his pursuit of a sit-down interview with John McCain’s free-speaking 96-year-old mother. Read the whole entertaining column packed full of insightful snippets of Rainey’s phone conversations with Roberta since he decided to go-around McCain’s less-than-helpful handlers and try to set up the interview himself. The all-too-candid Roberta McCain finally tells Rainey: “They’ve got me muzzled. Now don’t you print that…I really don’t like to be interviewed.”

Note to McCain staff: Nothing this woman could say could possibly hurt your stinkin’ candidate. She could even say he hates a certain ethnic group, or race, or Texans, or thinks immigrants, legal or not, are second-class Martians. She’s nearly 100 years old. Talk about missing a big opportunity to defuse the issue of John’s age.

For more on the issue of free speech, and the lack of it, on the campaign trail, and Black’s honest words, see Frank Rich’s column in the New York Times and an op-ed column by Ezra Klein in the L.A. Times.

And, whatever you want to say about any of this, it’s OK.
>

Posted in ACLU, American voices, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, journalism, Los Angeles Times, Presidential race, wolves | 2 Comments »

The Water King, The Sniper and the Power of Blogging – UPDATED

June 27th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

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It’s been a good week for LA Blogs.


Alan won’t brag, so I will in his behalf.
In case you missed it (or missed the LAObserved mention of it), yesterday the Daily News published a fascinating editorial that completely copped to the fact that the DN got snookered by David Nahai who, clearly backed into a corner by Alan’s perfectly reasonable request (okay, and his legal threat) that Water King Nahai release his water bill, decided to do so—-to another journalist, who would then paint him as a swell and very forthcoming guy for doing the releasing.

Nahai may very well be a swell guy outside this incident.
(He has a very nice and talented wife. And Kevin Roderick has an interesting profile on him in the July issue of Los Angeles Magazine that is well worth reading. For instance, I was personally happy to learn that Nahai has been known to quote Jackson Brown lyrics when giving speeches.) But with regard to the Great Water Bill Controversy his behavior was less than stellar.

Anyway, read the editorial, and kudos to the Daily News for admitting to having been pawns, and appropriately, even if belatedly, crediting Alan.

By the way, this series of Alan’s is an excellent example
of what blogs can do well. It was perfectly reasonable for a reporter—-or for an LA resident, for that matter—- to demand that the guy who seeks to lead us down the path of righteousness in the quest for water conservation should have to fork over his own personal water bill. When Nahai declined, Alan’s pursuit of him made for an excellent—and frankly very funny— ongoing day-by-day narrative that accomplished several things. It….

A) brought attention to an important issue
(water conservation)…

B) amused us as we drank our morning coffee
(never a bad thing), and…

C) reminded us that the ordinary citizen has the right to ask
for certain kinds of information, and the fact that a public official doesn’t want to comply because it makes him or her feel a tad uncomfortable, doesn’t mean we should smile politely and back off.

Yet–unless your name is Steve Lopez
—few if any papers would have published Alan’s series of stories, as written, nevermind that Alan is a longtime journalist/editor with an excellent professional reputation and the information he was after was legitimate news.

Ditto the ongoing and important stories that LA Observed’s Kevin Roderick is doing about Sam Zell
and the Los Angeles Times. Would a newspaper run what journalist, radio-commentator, former-LA Times staff writer/senior editor Roderick is posting? A smidgen of it, yes. Most of it, no.

But blogs can and do. And that’s a healthy development.

UPDATE: Kevin Roderick
did a smart radio broadcast on the just past good week for LA blogs in which he highlights Patterco’s excellent coverage of the way the LA Times completely overstated and misled regarding the issue of Judge Alex Kozinski’s oneline porn collection, and Alan’s wonderful Water King’s story.

“Blogs,” Roderick concludes , “the better ones, are changing the media scene in Los Angeles
, like they are everywhere. And even with the occasional dishonest actors that go with that, I think we’re all better off.”

Yep. Me too.

Okay, happy Friday.

Posted in environment, media | 5 Comments »

My Name is Richard – UPDATE

June 27th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

For those of you who expressed an interest in helping Richard, I have the relevant info.

If you wish to send money, here’s the deal:


You can send cash by either calling Western Union
(1-800-325-6000) or going to WesternUnion.com. Then the money should be sent for RICHARD LOCICERO to a Western Union outlet in Costa Mesa called:

Cash Stop
1934 Harbor Boulevard
Costa Mesa, CA 92780
Phone: (949) 548-3551


Unfortunately, it turns out that wiring money in the US
is way more complicated than it should be so, if you send something, Richard has to be notified, plus he’s supposed to have some kind of code thingy (that Western Union will give) you called the MTCN number.

So you can do one of two things.
You can call the Cash Stop and talk to a very nice woman named Colleen who will walk you through this, and facilitate Richard filling out the necessary paperwork in order to actually receive the cash.

….OR…

You can email me with the MTCN number and the amount, and I will email Richard, who can then go to the Cash Stop armed with this info.

(Those of you who already have Richard’s email can cut out the middlewoman by doing this directly.)

I have no freaking idea why this process is so complicated. I’ve wired money to Mexico on various occasions and had to jump through no such hoops. (As to why I’ve wired cash money to Mexico….don’t ask. Let’s just say my reporting life has many….um….interesting facets.)

Anyway, there you have it. Richard is very ambivalent about receiving help, but I’ve suggested he should get over it. We all need help, from time to time.

However, he mentioned that his real wish is to be able to work in exchange for somewhere safe to stay. Giving his present medical condition he’s not a good candidate for, like, say, the job of triathlon coach or operating a fork lift. But he’s a wickedly smart researcher and writer, and could probably do most things that involve sitting in front of a computer.

So please think creatively, my dears.

Posted in Homelessness, Public Health, Street Stories | 10 Comments »

My Name is Richard. And I’m Homeless…… Part II

June 26th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

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Tourist states with temperate climates, such as California and Florida, have long been magnets for the homeless. Los Angeles is the nation’s homelessness capital, with an estimated 73,000 people on the streets. A survey of 3,230 homeless people last year in Los Angeles County found nearly 7 percent living in vehicles, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

“It’s trending toward an increase,”
said Michael Stoop, acting executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “People would rather live in a vehicle than wind up in a shelter, and you can’t stay on a friend’s couch forever.”


The above clip is from an article that ran in Briebart on Monday.
It described how an increasing number of people in Los Angeles are living out of their cars—like Richard. Except that he used to be living out of his car, but the thing has since broken down. Now he’s dependent on shelters and the Motel 6, the latter only when he has the money.

Also, Richard doesn’t live in LA but in Orange County,
where, according to this year’s County of Orange Community Indicators Report, there are 30,000 homeless who need a place to sleep each night, but there are less than 900 emergency shelter beds in the entire county.


It is deeply disturbing to realize that our social safety nets are so porous
that someone as intellectually vigorous and productive as Richard could so easily fall through them. Yet, along with the undeniably harrowing details of his circumstances there is also the fact that he has been able to accomplish quite a lot given his situation. Not only was Richard commenting on my blog and Marc’s, he was also one of three regular co-hosts over at Randy Paul’s blog, Beautiful Horizons, where he wrote smart, newsy, opinionated posts sometimes several times a day with seeming ease—like these from last June.

As I mentioned yesterday, I asked Richard to write a little about his present situation,
—which he said he was finding difficult to do now that his health was more tenuous. Yet a week later he sent me a first installment:

My name is Richard. I’m 61 years old. I’m part of a growing army of homeless people here in Orange County who are neither mentally ill— at least at the start— or chemically dependent on alcohol or drugs. How I got here is the story I’m going to try to tell. Up front, let me say it will be hard. I’ve never been very good at talking about myself and the idea of opening up about this is difficult.

While my family has Sicilian and Italian roots, my mother was brought up with all the Yankee values that one could expect of the Connecticut home where she was raised.

My father was the first in his family to go to college
and but, when he graduated in 1931, found a degree in French Literature was not a key to fame and fortune. So he found what work he could and raised a family. My brother was born in 1932. I followed fourteen years later.

I grew up in Norwalk, a working class neighborhood of Los Angeles
. We had a nice house – VA and FHA financed, of course.. The depression made my father risk-averse. I think he would have made a great teacher but he didn’t think of going back to school on the GI Bill. Neither did he join with friends in business opportunities that might have paid off handsomely. Instead, he stayed with the security of the post Office. But he always found time to instruct me in the Great World outside. Weekends were spent at all the museums, ports, and other diversions of Los Angeles. He was a great instructor.

That is all I have the energy for right now.
But before I go on I’d like to say a word or two about “Homelessness” and what it means. What does it mean to you for example? Probably the image of a dirty drunken or crazy middle aged man comes to mind. Well that is one view and its not wrong. But it’s not completely right either.

Yes we are dirty and we smell.
There are few showers on the street and even fewer bathrooms. And when you wear the same clothes day after day – the scent of Irish Spring is not yours. After a bit we stop noticing the smell, but we know that you do. It is one of the things that serves as a barrier to social intercourse. We know people are turned off from us and we draw away.

About the alcohol and drugs: Sure, that’s how many ended up on the street. But not all. A surprising number are working men in their fifties rendered redundant by this economy.

A lot can also be said about the shameful dumping that occurred in the sixties when we closed the big mental institutions but failed to create the half-way houses needed to bridge the gap. Living on the street is stress-inducing anyway – if you’re not clinically depressed, you likely have far more serious mental or emotional problems.

And, yet I see a lot of people like me, with disabilities
—maybe work related —that are not addressed in any adequate way.

It took me three days to finish this much so I’ll sign off. More soon.

But before I go, let me say this. I made choices. Many of them turned out to be bad.

Some of you have kindly expressed the desire to help Richard. Later today, I should have some information as to where you can send money, should you wish. I’ll post it as soon as I get it.

*********************************************************************************************

PART III on Monday

(The photo, which is not of Richard, came from the LA Homeless Blog.)

Posted in Homelessness, Public Health, Street Stories | 6 Comments »

My Name is Richard. And I’m Homeless: Part I

June 26th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

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Richard had been a regular commenter
at WitnessLA since the site’s inception in March of 2007. (I’ll call him only by his first name here as his last name is for him to reveal. Regular readers will easily solve the riddle.) He migrated to WLA from my good pal Marc Cooper’s blog, where he’d been an intelligent and impassioned commenter for several years.

In the course of the ongoing online public conversation I—we-–learned that in the past Richard had taught English—or maybe it was English composition—at the University of Southern California. We also learned he was very well-educated and that he seemed to have an impressive amount of knowledge of the law, so much so that whenever I would post about some particularly vexing legal issue, several commenters would usually call for Richard to weigh in.

As with other online communities,
the world of blogs has opened up an unusual kind of fellowship. After months and sometimes years of digital exchange—-ranging in nature from the usual fractious political colloquy to days-long discussions about which strange Christmas recordings might belong on this year’s ultimate top-ten holiday song list—-we come to know people, or we believe we do, without ever having laid eyes on them or having heard the sound of their voices. We also come to care about those with whom we share these electronic meeting halls, our new-fangled public squares.

And so it was with Richard.

As blog mistress I get to look behind the wizard’s curtain.
In so doing, I noticed that Richard lived in Orange County and that he posted from the Newport Beach Public Library. Knowing him to be ultraliterate, I wondered if he was working as a librarian. A couple of times, Richard disappeared for a week or two, and when he returned he briefly mentioned some health problems. But, he always turned up eventually and would comment with the same intellectual vigor.

In May, he disappeared again. When weeks and weeks went by without a sign of Richard or his comments, some of the other WLA regulars began to worry. I did too. Politically, Richard leans to the left. But even the conservative posters, like Woody, a commenter/sometimes blogger who had fought with Richard for years, at both my blog and Marc’s, expressed real concern. Several people had his email address and tried to reach him. But there was no reply.

I finally sent out my own shrilly anxious email
to the address I could capture from his posts.

A few days later, Richard answered. Here is what he wrote:


Thanks for the concern.
I think it’s time to come clean and explain why I’ve been off line for a time.

First of all I’ve spent three weeks in hospital with complications
from heart failure and diabetes. The later has affected my leg while the former required the implantation of a pacemaker. The rest of the treatments included antibiotics for the infected leg – caused by lymphedema (a swelling related to diabetes which leaks out lymphatic fluid and gets infected).

I should also tell you I am homeless.

Now let me tell you how I got into this state.
The fact is for the past two years I’ve been living on SSI—$870 a month —which doesn’t pay for much. I used to share a place, but the person moved so I moved into my car with occasional stops at local motels. But now my car is kaput and till I can cajole something from someone I’m on the street. At least Costa Mesa has decent weather and it’s not raining. Social workers are trying to help but since I’m so sick and only have SSI the assisted living places won’t take me. My guess is I’ll bounce back to the hospital before long. Well a lot of this is my doing I suppose but I noted after fifty, it was very hard to find work and now I couldn’t work even if I wanted to.

Stunned that someone whom I felt to be so incredibly bright, good-hearted, accomplished and likable, at least the online Richard I knew, could find himself in such dire circumstances, I asked Richard if he would write a little bit more about his situation and that, if he was willing, I would post it. He said he would endeavor to do so.

Right now I use the facilities at the OC Public Library (Newport Beach Library isn’t on a bus line so its hard to get to) and time is limited to an hour a day at each branch. My main concern now is some stable housing plus meals. Believe it or not its hard to even get to soup kitchens when a block’s walk is like running the marathon. Right now I’m at the first stage of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs—you know, survival. But I’ll try to write more soon.

Maybe Father Boyle could use an English instructor!

Yours in faith

Richard

PART II tomorrow

Posted in Homelessness, media, Public Health, Street Stories | 16 Comments »

Judge Tosses Lawsuit Against Special Order 40

June 25th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

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Late this morning, Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu
dismissed a lawsuit aimed at getting rid of the LAPD’s Special Order 40, which prohibits officers from using immigration status to initiate investigations. It seems that two years ago, an unhappy LA resident named Harold Sturgeon filed suit to stop the city from spending public money to enforce SO 40 claiming that it was an illegal use of public funds. Attorneys for the ACLU of Southern California argued that Sturgeon had not proved Special Order 40 is illegal because he could not show that it violates federal law, and the judge agreed.

“Keeping Special Order 40 intact allows beat cops in communities affected by crime
to build cooperative relationships with residents,” said Belinda Escobosa Helzer, one of the ACLU attorneys. “Community members can report crimes without fear that a tip will lead to deportation. That’s crucial in a city where more than 40 percent of the population is foreign-born.”

This isn’t about immigration policy, people,
it’s about logic, common sense and real world practicality. Kudos to Judge Treau for being fair-minded and sane. Now can we all go back to work? Good. I’m glad we had this little talk.

The LA Times has more.


Photo by Allen J. Schaben, LA Times

Posted in ACLU, immigration, LAPD | 16 Comments »

Joltin’ Arizona Joe and LA’s Gascon: Good Cop versus Bad Cop

June 25th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

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Two years ago, former Assistant Chief George Gascon
left the LAPD to become the chief of police in Mesa, Arizona. It’s not that Gascon was drawn irresistibly to move to another sun belt state. The job change had more to do with the fact that, if and when Bill Bratton leaves the LAPD to, say, become the Homeland Security czar under Barack Obama, Gascon will be one of those shortlisted to replace him. So George took the Arizona gig, he told me at the time, because he reasoned that having helmed the department in a complex, medium-sized city like Mesa (roughly the size of Long Beach) would likely one day help his chances in the big league chief race back in Los Angeles.

Gascon also said he liked the challenge. He came to Mesa in the wake of a police scandal that had resulted in a spike in the crime rate and a dive in department morale. Two years later, he is a popular chief who has done much to reverse those problems.

But in the past six months, Gascon has run into a far more solution-resistant problem
in the person of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio, for those of you who have somehow forgotten (or never knew to begin with), is a publicity-addicted self-caricaturing kind of a guy who, as the head of the nation’s third largest sheriff’s department, appears to believe erroneously that shame is the route to public safety. He has gleefully reinstituted the chain gang for jail inmates—including a women’s chain gang—brags about feeding his prisoners a steady diet of bologna sandwiches, brags louder about forcing inmates to wear pink underwear and/or t-shirts that say “I was a drug addict”—-and who is repeatedly reelected to the position of Maricopa sheriff by large margins.

Last spring Joe decided that he didn’t like the way that George Gascon
and some of the state’s other officials were enforcing immigration laws. (Gascon’s system is similar to that of the LAPD under Special Order 40) So he decided he would just have to do the enforcing himself—his way, which included checking the immigration status of everyone who was stopped for the most minor traffic infraction, reportedly arresting anybody who could not prove citizenship on the spot, or who was solely Spanish speaking.

The Mayor of Phoenix was furious at Arpaio’s high-handedness
saying that Joltin’ Joe’s antics were interfering disastrously with undercover city police officers and federal agents. The mayor of Guadalupe pleaded with him to leave her traumatized community alone. Arpaio gave them both the figurative finger and went ahead with his clumsy raids anyway, always making sure that TV crews and gun-toting Minute Men were on hand to maximize the photo ops.

Now Arpaio intends to up the ante with huge new immigration sweeps in Mesa
where he clearly relishes going head to head with high profile LA migrant, George Gascon—who, legally, can do nothing to stop Arpaio due to a federal statute called 287(g) passed in 1996 as part of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (an ill-conceived Republican-bulldozed package that has since wreaked all kinds of mischief).

Arpaio’s only concession, made after numerous requests by Gascon
and one of Mesa’s police unions, was to send Gascon a letter on Tuesday informing him that the raids were about to commence 48-hours later—namely Thursday—but he refused to say where or what time.

To put this in perspective,
imagine LA County Sheriff Lee Baca unilaterally deciding to do gargantuan raids at multiple unannounced points within the LA city limits, damn the objections and the consequences, and if Bratton and company didn’t like it because it interfered with more serious crime enforcement? Tough. Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff says it’s okay. So deal with it.

“By the way,” Arpaio told the press in April,
“we do have a 3,000-person posse — and about 500 have guns. They have their own airplanes, jeeps, motorcycles, everything. They can only operate under the sheriff. I swear ’em in. I can put up 30 airplanes tomorrow if I wanted.”

Great. The mature mind at work—and heavily armed.

On Thursday, large groups of Mesa residents are expected to demonstrate for and against Arpaio’s Wild West grandstanding,
and police worry that the demonstrations could easy turn violent.

But Joltin’ Joe is unfazed.
“If you get caught by immigration, you get a free ride back to Mexico in an air-conditioned bus,” Arpaio told the Washington Post . “A free ride? Not in my county. I’m going to put them on chain gangs, in tents and feed them bologna sandwiches.”

A few month’s back, I heard from Gascon on the issue and he was understandably upset then. But now things are clearly coming to a head—and not in a good way. So stay tuned.

Meanwhile, on the local front, this morning at 11 AM, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu is expected to rule on a court challenge to LA’s own Special Order 40.

Posted in immigration, LAPD, law enforcement | 6 Comments »

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