Category Archives: Ethically Challenged City Attorneys

For Bribery Blinds the Eyes of the Wise

The Torah reminds us to be on guard against those relationships that might cause us to be influenced and turn a blind eye to what is right and what is just.

carsonThe arrest of Frank Carson and the release of the affidavit has opened a flood of questions and concerns. All of this for some metal trinkets of sentimental value, leading to the death of a man who did not deserve to die, nor did he face judgment for his acts in a Court of Law. By the time the story is told, there are nine people who were involved to one degree or another, none of whom chose to do the right thing, the humane thing.

Why does Dave care so much about this? Because every life should have some meaning. And there are lessons that can be learned here that might prevent another perversion of justice.

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Ethically Challenged City Attorney & Musical Chairs

Happy Birthday to Yosemite National Park! Now go home, they’re closed….

Please don’t tell me that the Senate is concerned about the shutdown. If they’re not even willing to pretend to have talks, they don’t care about the shutdown at all.

The search goes on – as it should. Well, not today, obviously, as NASA is not considered a “self-funded” government agency, so they’re closed. But the first “cloud covered” planet has been discovered. Once again, it is not a “Goldilocks Zone” planet, and seems highly unlikely to harbor life, but the knowledge we gain from not finding life is as important as that which we could gain if we ever did (but we won’t).

The Governor raised his bushy eyebrows and announced that the State’s “wall of debt” was “around $30 Billion.” He was just a little bit off. By about $413 Billion. That’s all.

Here’s an interesting story about a Supreme Court Case in which an amicus brief has been submitted to the Court – via Tumblr. The point of the exercise is to show that the Court is behind the eight ball on technology and its applicability in campaign finance. Currently the “law of the land” is Citizens United, which Barry, Harry and Nancy hate and indeed are working to overturn. Which would seem funny if they were actually believable people, but they’re not. Couple of things here, first, I am doubtful that the entire Court is technologically impotent. Even my Dad, who is old enough to be a Supreme Court Justice, uses computers and eMail just fine. Secondly, while the Citizens decision has had its reverberations, one ought to be able to look at the big picture and understand that if corporate money influences politics for the negative, so does union money. Ban every dime, or allow it all. Frankly, I am for banning all but individual contributions and limiting those to $500 per person per election cycle (not per candidate). But both sides would howl like Atlanta about that limit. When a candidate is spending six figures to become Mayor of Modesto, there’s too much money involved to believe that anything other than money has influence.

6637121261125465378This advertisement is on the Bee’s website this morning next to an article about the Courthouse deal hitting yet another “snag.” This time that the title to land isn’t “clear.” Ask Chris Papworth what that means and you’ll get a passionate explanation that nothing can be done without a clear title. So it’s a pretty serious problem requiring lots of serious questions about how a Government agency that wants more money can lose track of the title to its own land. But you’re not concerned about that right now. You’re trying to figure out if playing that game would be hot or more like your high school D&D group – a bunch of virgin nerds pretending to be involved with well endowed fantasy characters…

Clearly the City of Stockton has its collective head up its rear end, as they announce they have rehired ethically challenged ex-Modesto City lawyer Susana Alcala Woods (three names!). She’ll be taking the #2 job in Stockton, where I am sure that with her expensive ethical lapses behind her she can begin wasting more Stockton money on pointless eminent domain cases and not read her eMails for them. While this is “good” for Modesto, it’s “bad” for Stockton. So it’s a wash for taxpayers, but good for me!

Speaking of Stockton, there was some irritation at the recent findings of Central Connecticut University that Stockton is the least literate city in America. But now the University of the Pacific has done its own study and found that… Stockton is terrible at literacy. Only 34% of San Joaquin County 3rd graders are proficient at grade level. So what’s the solution? More government, of course.

Adieu, Starbucks. Tu vas Me Manquer.

I’ve lost track of how many times I have said this – at the end of the day, the reason Edward Snowden was able to get away with what he got was because of the security procedures in place at NSA. Whether those were the written procedures or not is irrelevant – the actual practices are what were in effect, the actual security procedures. Now it turns out that it was Snowden’s actual job to move documents for which he had no clearance and no need to know what was in them, in an unsecured format to a file sharing server inside the NSA. In other words, we handed the classified data to him, in an open format (he could read it, even though he was not cleared for it) thus giving him access, and asked him to disseminate the data appropriately. Do you realize the problems here? I have said it before and I say it again – the ONLY reason Snowden got away with this is because the NSA did not adhere to basic, long ago learned best practices, security procedures. And yet to date, not one person has been disciplined or fired.

By the by, what if Snowden hadn’t been a 4th Amendment motivated, in his own eyes Patriot, hacker? What if he had been a Soviet or Red Chinese mole? In fact, we don’t yet know that he isn’t, but for the moment, what if this had been say, 1983 instead of 2013 and his pay came from the Soviets? This guy on the left WAS that guy in 1983, and trust me, he caused damage that still reverberates to this day. Depending on who you believe and how much you may or may not know, the information he had access (but not clearance) to was passed on to the Soviets for a pittance. That information was used to compromise our national deterrent strategy, and possibly to kill 99 American sailors. It keeps me awake a night sometimes when I think about how unsafe I personally may have been because of what he was able to do. And why could he do it? Because Procedures were changed to practices. People failed to do things the right way, all the time. Only people you trust can hurt you, which is why in the security business, it’s not personal, but you trust no one. Ever.

Starbucks – who for the record I like their black coffee’s quite a lot – has decided that guns are not banned, but not welcome in their establishments. Okay, this is a good Constitutional exercise. Can Starbucks ban firearms from their stores? That is not the same question as Should they ban firearms from their stores? Those are two distinct questions, and they have different answers. That Starbucks has not – to date – been subjected to yet another liberal gun nut going off the deep end and shooting up the place is fortuntate, but it seems to me that given their high profile and ease of access, Starbucks might consider the data about having CCW and other armed persons around. For the moment, I personally have added Starbucks – whose coffee I quite like – to my “not unless I am forced to go there” list of places that I will avoid until they change their policy – and for the record, I have never carried a gun into a Starbucks. But I am not going into a place where I am told that I and everybody else cannot. Why? Because that means the only people with guns in there mean me harm.

So in the past few weeks we here in Modesto have had the scandal of the City Attorney and her ethical challenges, the waste of money on the Archway Commons project, the eminent domain case in which the City has wasted hundreds of thousand of dollars fighting for land that could have been had for $140,000, the secret courthouse deals that nobody seems to know anything about and now the resignation of the City Attorney. But “Trust Us,” says the City Council, “Just give us More money via Measure X and we’ll make Modesto right as rain.” I submit to you anyone who would vote for Measure X is one of three types of people: (a) a direct beneficiary of the money, (b) a consultant being paid to get the measure passed or (c) a moron.

What kind of special equipment do blind or deaf people need to enjoy a movie? Blind people can hear it and are used to not seeing things, while deaf people can see it and are used to not hearing things. Movies are already outrageously expensive, and thanks to new rules, they’re about to cost even more.

The “Stop Nancy Pelosi” PAC has been told by the FEC that they have to change their name. Have any great name suggestions for them? Keep in mind you won’t be allowed to use “Pelosi” in the title.

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