Monday, April 21, 2014

Eureka Rotary DA race debate leaves lots of questions.

Today’s Eureka Rotary Humboldt County District Attorney debate was interesting to say the least. The League of Women Voters (LWV) hosted the format and I came away with information I was not privy to before. I have met with 2 of the candidates but have not officially endorsed or committed my vote to any at this time. Each candidate had a one minute opening statement.
Arnie Klein opened the forum at equated politicking around the room reminded him of “Speed Dating.” He outlined long experience and referenced the Rotary flag with, “Is it the Truth? Is it Fair?
Allan Dollison spoke of 19 years as Attorney and half of that time he was in the DA’s office. He also served in Iran and Iraq and is currently Lieutenant Colonel in the National Guard.
Elan Firpo said she was the only current candidate actually currently in the DA’s office and explained her executive experience prior to becoming a lawyer.
Maggie Fleming outlined her 20 yrs of experience and how she actually worked with 3 different elected Humboldt County DA’s.
(Nobodies opening gave them an advantage. Arnie was the most clever.)
What is the biggest problem in Humboldt County?
Allan: “Crime in Eureka!”
Maggie: Drugs need to be addressed.
Arnie: Need to go after serious crime offenders. Explained, “Arnie is for the people!”
Elan: Mental health is the biggest problem. Pointed out one person being arrested 359 times. “We need to focus on getting people healthy.
(I feel Elan gave the best answer and solution based approach.)
What is your opinion on Marijuana?
Arnie: “We need to take back the streets!” MJ will be lowest priority but will go after trespass growers and environmentally bad grows.
Allan: “There have been new studies about the bad mental effect of MJ. It is an intro drug. “ He said we need to look at Colorado laws and corporate grows.
Elan: “There are Growmaniacs, criminals coming to raid and pollute. The problem isn’t the plant.” She would have a vertical prosecutor trained to specialize in grow situations.
Maggie: She pointed out that it was a statewide issue and she is against environmentally invasive and trespass grows and the crime because of them.
(Again, Elan had the best answer and addressed how she could help the DA’s office do better. That is what everyone is looking for.)
How many people have had work under you that were responsible to you?
Maggie: She said she had 14 to 18 under her, but then back tracked and noted she was just filling in for Wes Keat.
Elan: Started off really confused and hard to understand, but finished with explaining she had 30 high level employees under her that oversaw 3,000 workers down chain. She had the power to hire and fire at least 50 at a given time.
Allan: He said about the same as Maggie. He had also filled in for Wes Keat. He had been recently promoted to head up a troop battalion of 140.
Arnie: Has led departments in Beverly Hills, West LA, Compton and Tulare. He joked that everyone up there had at one time been head of the Humboldt office.
(Allan was able to explain easily and understandable and gets extra points for his service record.)
Who are your largest donors and how much is the largest donation?   
Elan: Named Jasion Chand and Neal Ewald but didn’t divulge amount.
Arnie: “My campaign chair and fiancé Kitty is my largest donor, but I have many donations from past fellow prosecutors from past DA offices.” One from Vegas gave him $500.  
Maggie: Said her largest donors were her family and wouldn’t divulge anything else.
Allan: “I am my largest donor at $20,000. I also have been given $500 from Robert Helm.” Helm was a past fellow combat soldier.
(Allan was straight forward and answered the question.)  
What do feel about the Homeless issue?
Maggie: Pointed out that this was a mental health issue that impacts caseloads. “Some of the people won’t accept help.”
Allan: Pointed out “Being homeless is not a crime. They are more times victim!” He felt there needed to be proper services and has been involved in the StandDown program for homeless vets.
Arnie: “They are sleeping under the bridge! In 2010 there were 150 that swooped into Garberville.” Said they were ruled by the “Law of the gun!”
Elan: Said there were chronic problem people that just need to be “Safe and warm.”
(Allan once again made good points.)
What is the one thing you would change or do different than the current DA?
Allan: “Need more resources. Did you know that the DA’s office has not prepared or presented a budget to the Board of Supervisors that last two years?”
Maggie: The oversight of the department. She worked in the past with many experienced prosecutors and said there are young ones in the DA office now.  Because of plea bargains there is a lack of confidence from the community.
Elan: Pointed out a lack of “Vertical Prosecutors.” Felt there needed to be a focus on training to more specialized focus. Such as one for drugs, one for environment, one for victim witness and so on.
Arnie: Said you can only do so much. He said he would deputize prosecutors in community areas so they wouldn’t have to travel all the way to Eureka. Those people would know the problem people. “Switching chairs on the Titanic won’t do anything!”
(Elan gave reasonable solutions instead of complaining about current problems.)
What about realignment and how do you deal with petty crime with no repercussion?
Maggie: Said we needed to treat the problem locally and work with law enforcement.
Arnie: Pointed out we have an ugly jail. “Put people in jail if they harm people.”  
Allan: “Realignment was a terrible idea for the State to put the responsibility on the county and let them try to figure it out!”  Pointed out that there are only 3 people currently with house monitors in the county. He wanted to hold people responsible for violent crime.
Elan: Said that people have figured out how to get around AB 109. She pointed out getting long term sentences for Meth dealers.
(Allan is so right here. But why aren’t more people monitored instead of in jail? That is the bigger question.)
What would do about Panhandling? (C’mon LWV. You couldn’t pick a better question?)
Arnie: ”Nuisance, but least of problem.” Noted it was bad for business. Felt they needed to be cited but not a major public safety problem.
Elan: Felt the money they were collecting was for drugs. Said the trim jobs that bring people into the community helps cause this problem. Not a DA’s job.
Maggie: Also pointed out the trim workers and said citing them and doing a work program would help issue.
Allan: “I have been in big cities and see less here.” Deal with in homeless court and don’t criminally prosecute.
(I will agree with Allan that this problem is bigger in some cities. Portland and SF comes to mind. Part of Maggie’s work program seems to be good solution. And it is just a nuisance, like Arnie pointed out. I have seen studies/survey that shows that nearly 90% of the panhandlers supplement their intake. And many of the same use for booze and drugs also.)
Closing Statements
Maggie: Explained that everything she has done in her campaign is “Transparent.” Then became defensive and pointed out that people should check her opponents claimed work record and where and when she actually did. (Wow! I was shocked and noticed all the people around me shuffling uncomfortable in their seats. I have had multiple people I respect give personal testimony of Maggie’s competency and character. This was not good!
Elan: Had to use some of her time answering the alluded to accusation of past work history. She then pointed out that the DA’s office has excellent attorneys.
Allan: He and Maggie were once in a DA’s office of 20-25 attorneys. Said midnight release policy should be stopped. Pointed out 2 murder cases that happened with early release and Maggie’s agreement that early release would continue.  He also let it be known current Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey has endorsed Maggie.
Arnie: “Need communication and teamwork! Just because you coach youth soccer team does not mean you can coach in the NFL!”
(So who am I supporting or voting for? I just don’t know. You only meet an Arnie Klein once in a lifetime. Great guy. Funny and smart. Old school.  Allan? I just can’t seem to get past the de-barred from practicing law for not producing services paid for and rendered. Practice law? Fine. Hold the position of DA? That is a higher standard. But I love his commitment to God and the USA.  Maggie? This debate is my first real exposure with others in the room. And it wasn’t good. At previous Democratic Central Committee and other public gathering meetings she was engaging and nothing but positive. Why the attack on Elan? Got me. Maggie is the clear frontrunner. Better to keep positive. Elan? I have met with Elan a few times. I gave her advice early in her campaign. She politely listened and considered. She fed me cookies at Arts Alive in Eureka a few times and always smiled as she manned her booth with her two kids. I am leaning Elan, but I will wait to see what comes up. Arnie might buy me a beer and take it away!” Joking , please.)    


Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should actually look into Elan's work history. She refuses to give details about her self-touted experience and Maggie is simply asking that she back up her claims of "twenty years of relevant experience."

Anonymous said...

I am amazed that giving you a cookie and being nice to you while you spoke sways you in any way.

I am further amazed to me that our county, after suffering the inexperience of Gallegos for as long as we have, would not now look to someone with experience and a proven track record.

How is the next DA going to attract seasoned prosecutors if they are not? No prosecutor worth there salt will come to work for a novice.

And, it doesn't sound like Maggie was defensive at all. She was merely saying check the last 20 years on all candidates. Hers is so clean you could eat off of it. This is a job interview not a date.

Anonymous said...

Maggie has to attack on resume and the fact some of those industries are gone. She knows where her competition is coming from, and it's tough to beat current Deputy DA currently handling 3 murders AND over a decade as an executive.l working all over the world. Not to mention wicked smart. Maggie knows we are hiring an executive and not a a trial attorney.

Anonymous said...

Also may want to ask about Maggie's part time positions. When was the last time she actually worked a full week? What happened when she was head of CAST? Why did the Humboldt County Grand Jury investigate her?

Anonymous said...

Wooow. Did you just suggest that Maggie was investigated by the grand jury? WTF!?

Is anyone fact checking this blog? That is absolutely ridiculous.

"Wicked smart" - Elan sounds that way to those that don't know that she does not know criminal law well enough to be in charge. Three murder cases? That is because she is the only one left to handle these cases. Paul has driven off all the experienced prosecutors.

Executive? Please. She was let go from her job at a company in hot water with Malaysian customers because the product design was faulty. She was the engineer designing the faults. Do the math.

Anonymous said...

From 2002-to June 2004, under her predecessor’s CAST leadership in the Paul Gallego’s administration, CAST interviews and charges filed held the same pace they had over the previous decade. After Ms. Fleming assumed the role, interviews and files charged dropped more than 40%. The sudden drop off was so egregious that it prompted a Grand Jury investigation and an investigative report by the Eureka Reporter. In a May 19th interview, Ms Fleming tried to justify the drop off by saying there wasn’t enough evidence to many cases forward, but she failed to answer why those numbers dropped off so sharply after holding steady for over a decade. The grand jury report said that the Deputy District Attorney attended meetings and “ filled the leadership position by virtue of his commitment to the program” They go on to say “His departure in July 2004 left a leadership void detrimental to the effective operation of the program.” That would be when Ms. Fleming took over. Those CAST numbers have never recovered and in fact have become much worse. Especially after Paul replaced her with someone even worse. Fleming touts this as her management experience. Yeah, about that…. I think Allison Jackson, who held those numbers up, even after Paul was elected might have a different spin.

Anonymous said...

Jeez, Richard. Stick to softball and port-related stuff. Your biases are unfounded. And you can find financial disclosures on LOCO.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 6:17. I don't know who wrote the original post but Fleming was investigated. Technically Paul, but for Fleming driving the CAST unit under after taking it over from Allison Jackson.

As for Firpo, check out her bio, her customers were in Europe, not Malaysia. Sounds a little like an uneducated attack from a Fleming supporter.

Anonymous said...

Grand Jury Report 2005 LJ-02

In Paul’s first two years in office under Allison Jackson, and average of 44 Child Abuse cases were filed. Those numbers dropped in half to 23 and 17 in the two following years when Maggie took over the unit, which prompted a Grand Jury Investigation.

“The District Attorney, who is a member of the Governing Board, has failed to regularly attend meetings as documented by testimony, statistics, and meeting minutes. In the past, a Deputy District Attorney filled the leadership position by virtue of his (her) commitment to the program. His (Her) departure in July 2004 left a leadership void detrimental to the effective operation of the program.” In other words, when Paul fired Allison Jackson and put Maggie in the position, it fell apart. It was described as having become “disorganized” and “ineffective”

This is the program in which Fleming touts as her only management experience. She managed to drive it into the ground by failing to maintain the level of commitment of her predecessors. While Fleming would probably like to blame Paul for lack of support, the fact is the numbers didn’t deteriorate until after Allison Jackson was fired and Maggie took it over. Maggie allowed the most important division in the office to atrophy, to the dismay of all those who came before her and built the program to what it was.

Anonymous said...

First of all, the manufacturers in Malaysia were not happy with her designs. If you sell a design to a manufacturer, then they are, in essence, a customer. They were unhappy with her designs and she had to leave the company after only 5 years and 7 months.

Btw, the DA's office is a mess, but we do not quite need an engineer to fix it. I think a lawyer will do. Firpo has not been a lawyer long enough to become thee DA.

It is like having a doctor for 5 years become chief surgeon when there are other more experience surgeons applying for the role.

Criminal Justice is very important and we need to hire a DA (with our votes) who is up to the task. Firpo has never even tried one murder trial much less the many many that Arnie and Maggie have.

In her first murder trial, Bohdi Tree, Firpo has already left the jury selection process twice to campaign. That is not the dedication that we need for DA of our county.

Anonymous said...

Okay so Allison filed more cases but what were the results of those filings? Who got the greater number of, or percentage of, convictions?

Anonymous said...

I don't know but if I was a defense counsel, I wouldn't want Maggie. I would want someone who gives stuff away. Maggie don't play that.

Anonymous said...

Management experience? Every jury trial requires management experience. All 120+ juries trials Maggie has under her belt.

Also, doesn't Maggie advise department heads on employment law in THIS county?

Gosh, I have spoken to DDAs who thought she was running the place when she was there.

Arnie Klein said...

I would buy you a beer anytime Richard

Arnie Klein said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Arnie Klein said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Anon at 5:30

That would be a slew of lies. Malaysians didn't but the product. It was sold in Europe. Check he resume and bio on her website.

She did not leave the trial to campaign. It is actually Maggie Fleming who works part time and is dodging work.

As for what is more important, 20 years of law or 6 years of law and 14 as an executive, in the long run we will see what the voters choose.

As for convictions, yes they went down significantly. Maggie took down the most important division in the office.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'd like to read those comments.

Rose said...

Well, that's interesting. It's a tad more complicated than that. But what happened to CAST is a story that was ignored by reporters. Because. Paul. Because. Pot. Whatever. Despite the horrible numbers.

And despite what they represent.

What do they represent you might ask. And you should.

But, the failure of CAST should be laid squarely at Paul's feet. And while you're asking... ask why it was tolerated. Why was it?

Anonymous said...

The person accusing Firpo of leaving a case to go campaigning is either unfamiliar with dark days or an insider in the courthouse who knows what he or she said is untrue. Copuld they be supporting Klein or Fleming?

The CAST debacle is a good one to be exposed and many such "facts" about Fleming.

Fleming only reported her FPPC violation after it was reported.

This Elan work history dead horse is only being kept alive by a NO chance candidate and another candidate who just assumed she has the job locked up.

Julie Timmons said...

Thanks for the excellent writeup, Richard.

samoasoftball said...

I am a voting this election, so my thoughts and observations are relevant. These are 4 very interesting candidates who have never ventured into the political foray. They are learning politics on the run. So how they react to questions and critics is very telling. I really like all of the candidates. But what the heck, Arnie has offered me a beer!

Anonymous said...

Dark days which she requested so she could campaign.

The work history is not a dead horse. We should know the full resume of the DA we are hiring. Attempts to pad one's resume or not to answer questions regarding it, especially as she is so new to Humboldt and the law, is very telling.

I am not talking about her family being here. I am talking about her. If she was not here then we need all the information, not the spin on some of the information.

This is a job interview. Not a dead horse.

Anonymous said...

In only two years, Maggie "took down the most important division in the office"?

Really. So it had nothing to do with Paul not getting in the essential funding for that division?

And why were Malaysians upset with Firpo's designs? Check the SEC. You can go to her website if you like but it may be a bit biased.

Joe Blow said...

Cheap price for "owning" what you vote for. What makes you believe you can trust any of these people? "Liking" someone is a poor measure for taking responsibility for their, and in some cases, marginal ethical, lawful conduct.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so now Firpo is lying about the number of years she has been an attorney.

Check out Access Humboldt on watchpaul. She said that she has been an attorney for 8 years when it is not quite 6 years. Why is she lying? Maybe because 8 sounds better than "not quite 6"?


Anonymous said...

Fortunately Fleming has a resume!
Never worked a full time job- check
Always a government employee- check
Turned down every promotion-check
Opportunist looking for an easy ride- check
Would run for DA until Paul stepped out and she was promised a bunch of money- check
Disregard for the law- check
Drove the only department she ever ran into the ground- check
Subject of grand jury investigation- check

Vote for Maggie!

Anonymous said...

Charged for 38 hours but worked way more CHECK

Public servant who turned down private practice offers with big paycheck CHECK

Hard worker and everyone knows it - 120+ jury trials CHECK

Did not want to put her family through the Salzman nonsense CHECK

Law abiding and widely regarded in legal and community circles throughout the county CHECK

Protected Children and got a greater number of convictions than her predecessor CHECK

Drove nothing but her car CHECK

Her boss was the subject of a grand jury investigation CHECK

Anonymous said...

Wrong about 38 hours, works 24. Check

Moved to part time job with County Counsel but negotiated full time benis Check

Lost critical jury trials with child molesters

Even Salzman wouldn't touch her so she has Losey, Cardoza and Meilke Check

Verified to have broken the law twice in last month alone Check

Absolutely abysmal record compared to her predecessor. Supporter lies. Check

She was specifically called out in grand jury report. Check

Anonymous said...

Maggie has never worked a full week or taken a challenge. The nice thing about County Council is you are free to wander and campaign. No court assignments .

Anonymous said...

The more people are educated about Maggie the more she'll lose support , not fit for leadership.

Anonymous said...

The Tree case is of vital importance to our communities safety and it is not being tended to by the person who is supposed to be taking care of our community. The below comments are between Chiv and an anonymous blogger on watch paul regarding the Firpo not Klein letter.
On 4/18 anonymous writes, ".... Oh, by the way, where was she on Tuesday, when a misdemeanor deputy was picking the Bodhi Tree jury for her? Look, over there, it's Terry Farmer!!!Agggh!"

On 4/18 Chiv responds
"Anonymous, are your her boss? No. So Elan does not owe you answers why she was not there on Tuesday.

And you are anonymous. So state your name. Unless you are affected by the case, what business is it of yours whether someone else covered for her that day or not.

Has no other candidate ever taken the day off? Has no other DDA have someone cover for them on a case?

That day the only people in the courtroom were the attorneys, the court staff, the judge, prospective jurors and myself.

I doubt that you are any of the above mentioned. You are someone who supports another candidate; you are someone who either works in the DA's office or in the courthouse and therefore would notice that Jackie subbed for Elan.

Your personal insult of Ms. Pizzo's ability and Elan and personal nature of your comments are very telling of your motivation and agenda. Get off your high horse. State your name and then everyone on this blog can proceed to dissect your work history and character.

I don't think you have the guts.

And the latter applies to all anonymous comments directed at anyone on this blog. Don't hide behind the "I have something to lose". If you want to make unfounded accusations, sign your name."

4/18/2014 10:45 AM

Anonymous said...

No DDA takes time off, and has another DDA (brand new to felony work) during a double homicide case. Firpo is the first.

Anonymous said...

ANON 2:36 "Even Salzman wouldn't touch her"?

Are you smoking something?

Salzman is in bed with Paul who is in bed with Firpo. That is why Salzman is not touching her...because he is touching Firpo.

Anonymous said...

Maggie doesn't need Salzman. She has the poor man's Salzmans. Mike Losey, Max Cardoza, and Joel Meilke. All the sleaze with have the smarts.

Anonymous said...

"half". Maggie thought getting these guys to sling mud on her behalf would help her. Fleming has extremely questionable judgement. Firpo kept Salzman off the team. Fleming decided to keep Cardoza, Losey, Bryson and Neely nice and close. Momentum shifting to Firpo for choosing her associations more wisely. That's just a fact.

Anonymous said...

If Firpo kicked Salzman off the team, then why is he still on it?

Really no one is buying this nonsense about Firpo rejecting Salzman's help.