Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cop choices

Once again the forums of Santa Rosa's daily are over ridden with racist venting.

It seems that yesterday a possibly intoxicated man had the audacity to flee detention. And be Latino. At the same time.

The cops decided to chase him, on foot, by car, and with air support. No less than three agencies were involved: The Sonoma County Sheriffs Department, the Santa Rosa Police Department, and California Highway Patrol. That concentration of police forces says something about the climate of the neighborhood.

I'm not defending public drunkenness (which is alleged at this point, not proved), so much as questioning police tactics. What did chasing this guy down, calling out multiple agencies, calling in air support accomplish? It got three deputies hurt, the arrestee hospitalized, a copwatchers videotape and camera confiscated, and attracted a neighborhood crowd to witness the arrest. If that is the goal, then job well done, if it isn't then the cops need to change what they are doing.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Your privilege is showing

this is a draft I'll be punching it up over the weekend so check back, if you want to torture yourself you can watch the video here

Just got home from a Santa Rosa city council meeting. I was there because they were considering a $1500 fee for "Free Speech Parades."

Short version of the history: in 1991 the city adopted an ordinance that established 3 (really on 2, one with an optional extension) Free Speech Parade routes, from Santa Rosa Middle School to Courthouse Square, or from Santa Rosa Junior College to Courthouse Square or Julliard Park. These routes were based on the protest patterns of the time (mostly anti-Gulf War 1, and protests against logging in Headwaters. Few of the marches i went to in those days stayed on those routes, but they didn't vary much either. The Earth First!/Headwaters marches usually went to the California Department of Forestry office on Ridgeway, the anti-war marches usually took the mall, the police accountability marches usually blockaded or occupied the lobby of the cop shop. But I was a ruffian, and irresponsible, and liked to drop the f-bomb... all still true, I guess.

Anyhow the old rule was that as long as folks stayed on the sidewalk and and followed the designated city approved route, they could march for free. If they deviated from the approved routes the city could attempt to recover expenses. Get that... this is law so words like "could" have a very specific meaning, basically if they want to; "attempt" means try, meaning that if the group being hit with charges disputes the charge there will be some mediation or adjudication. Doesn't matter since NONE OF THIS HAPPENED EVER. I can think of dozens of marches that left the "free speech" zone and where never charged a dime.

Then in April and May of 2006 there were back to back marches of over 10,000 people one commemorating Cesear Chavez, and the second for immigrant rights. This time not by mostly white college students/punk rockers/hippies/and folks from the peace churches, but by Mexicans, Latino/as and Chicano/as (and yes each of those words means something very different and if you use them interchangeably you're a racist). Anywho the powers that be got scared, tried to negotiate the march into a minimal impact, then levied ridiculous fees, and over the next year used every ham fisted divide and conquer trick in the book... to no avail and in 2007 there were again back to back marches for the same issues with over 10,000 folks attending.

So this year the city manager (who makes over $200,000 per year) an SRPD lieutenant (who makes over $100,000 per year) and the city attorney (another $200,000 per year) decided to reset the rules. The old rules were unenforced, inconsistent and out date. The new rule they proposed was a $1500 flat fee for all "Free Speech Parades" with over 3000 attendees (suddenly cops have incentive to over estimate crowds), the reason for this fee is to recover city expenses associated with law enforcement for the marches (basically 20-30 cops on overtime parked in intersections on the march route "directing traffic", something I did after school in the 4th grade as a volunteer). The actually city expense is estimated to be $10-$15,000, so the city manager said $1500 was a bargain, and since the city didn't exercise it's right to collect the "actual costs" for the past 2 years the new rule should be accepted.

There are obvious problems with the city managers thinking: why pay cops to do something 9 year olds can do for free, isn't police service part of what taxes already pay for, why are people expected to ask for permission to assemble, and the biggie: WHY WASN'T THIS A PROBLEM UNTIL MASSIVE NUMBERS OF BROWN PEOPLE STARTED MOVING?

So this was supposed to be a quickie and I'll cut to the chase so I can get some sleep and come back to this in the AM.

After what Mayor Bob Blanchard said was over 30 public comments (I didn't count) all against ANY fee. There was a go round of the city council explaining their positions and thinking. My summations are anything but unbiased.

Bob Blanchard (mayor): retired law enforcement, unable to think critically about anything a cop says, if a cop says there needs to be 30 cops pulling OT sitting in their cars watching the march go by, then that's what there needs to be... but maybe the city can be big hearted... but 10 cents on the dollar for the safety that cops bring is a lot of bang for the buck... and I got some very nasty e-mails and phone calls that I won't report on the content of other than to say they are in support of even higher fees... playing good cop bad cop by yourself is confusing Voted in support of the fee

John Sawyer (vice-mayor): Non-sequitor "last month we had to cut funding to 30 non-profits by 30% and eliminate it for next year, if we don't recover this $3000, we are taking out of the pockets of pregnant alcoholics"... what? this guy is hopeless, let's get him fired. Voted in support of the fee

Veronica Jacobi (council member): understands that protest is important, encourages folks to recycle and stay on the sidewalk... what? Voted against the fee

Lee Pierce (council member): closest to actually "getting it" on the council, talked about the march on Washington, and asks ironically if there was a fee for that... hell yeah! Voted against the fee

Susan Gorin (council member): wavered quite a bit, is concerned about the budget, realizes the $3K is a drop in the bucket (especially compared to the $60K that goes unrecovered from the Rose Parade and the Downtown Market)... OK, Voted against the fee

Carol Dean (council member): admonished us to act right, and reminded us that we were stealing from pregnant alcoholics... Sure thing weirdo, Voted against the fee

Jane Bender (council member): reminded me of my Grandma, and not in a good way, another admonishment to act responsibly with our new found ability to assemble in public and petition the government for redress of our grievances... OK OK OK, Voted against the fee

so for those keeping score: the two white guys voted for the fee, everyone else voted against it, even if it was for really confused and half-assed reasons in the end

Saturday, March 29, 2008

leftover writer's strike goodness


the writer's strike allowed some unusually good things to end up on TV. Remember who's writing this (a guy with a closet full of comics, a wall full of action figures, and faith in the power of people to overthrow capitalism).

I just finished watching the last episode of Jericho (the whole time grinning and saying to Desiree "there is no way this is coming back for a third season"). To sum it up a nuclear attack on 22 US cities sets the stage for social disintegration and civil war. The first season is about how a plucky plains town pulls together to survive. The second season is about the US occupation of Iraq... err... I mean Kansas. It's good stuff. Lots of corn, and apocalypse, I love it. Plus the CIA agent monologues about individual responsibility to act right when it's obvious that the chain of command is unaccountable and totally nuts, while bleeding from a belly wound, while a bad-kid turned special ops military turned private contractor turned returning hero turned sheriff turned insurgent is driving him around in an ambulance with an improvised NUCLEAR FUCKING BOMB; and interlaced with this are scenes of a military commander resigning and convincing everyone in his command to walk with him, and the home town resistance preparing for (but ultimately punking out of) the long fight to cast off corporate/military domination. Torrent it, all of it, start to finish, then watch Jeremiah.

That Terminator show may actually end up a casualty of the strike... I think if the writers had been involved in the final editing process it would have been a lot better.

Now that Lost is down to a 13 episode season it feels manageable again.

And Supernatural completely half-assed it's way through the strike, with hilarious results... go torrent "mystery spot".

And Chuck and Reaper both rule.

but honestly, fuck TV.

what I've been really excited about is audio-drama podcasts. Yes, I AM THAT NERDY.

First go listen to Claybourne for real... and start at the beginning...

Okay, awesome right?

Now back to the nerding.

Any fans of Joss Whedon should be reading Buffy Season Eight and Angel After The Fall AND listening to Buffy Between the Lines. This was the show that started me on this audio-drama kick. The first couple episodes are cute in that "it's my friends band" way but by episode four the whole ensemble process has really hit it's stride and the actors/writers/editors/directors/producers are pulling things off at a near professional level. And what they are doing with the story and character arcs really fills in the between season gap well. I might even get around to submitting my application to do sound editing and be part of season two.

And you all know I'm hooked on Star Wars, which is much more understandable if you know my full bio, and my tumultuous relationship with... you guessed it... my Dad. Fortunately he's not trapped in armor, my Mother didn't lamely die of a broken heart, and I don't have a twin sister to make out with (yuck), but I am a whiny bumpkin with delusions of grandeur. Anyway check out Blue Harvest for an at times awesome and always adequate Star Wars fan service. Neal, the writer/director, is steeped in the Star Wars myth, he's taken a few characters and concepts abandoned by Lucas in early drafts, revivified them and made them his own and come out with a compelling story. The only short coming here is that it mimics too closely the film serials that inspired Lucas. Some resolutions to cliff hangers are a bit too contrived but I suppose that is part of the form (and story, and myth).

The Sonic Society drops 5 hours a month of the best audio-drama-cinema/pulp radio/whatever, every month. My tastes are far too much in accord with Jack and Shannon to even pretend objectivity. Besides these are the folks responsible for Firefly: Old Wounds, which now that I think of it may have been what got me hooked on this stuff, so not pretending to be objective and moving right along...

The March 25th Sonic Society had a promo for an upcoming Battlestar Galactica show from BrokenSea. Not some Jimi-Hendrix-indicates-that-Starbuck-is-a-Cylon Galactica of today, I'm talking full blown 1970's Egyptianesque flight helmet wearing Mormons in space... too bad you can't see the Cylons or the flight helmets.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

blogging in the real world?

so I've been writing in that self-selected echo chamber myspace for most of the past year.

see... I go there anyway after work most days, to pretend like I'm hanging out with friends,

and posting in one place is easier than posting in two...

but there I'm only writing for people who (mostly) already know me...

thanks to the triumvirate of rain, the housing market crash, and economic slow down I have some free time (meaning I'm unable to find someone who wants to rent me) today, I'll be moving stuff over from Myspace and augmenting the posts.

Monday, May 28, 2007

nerd con

I flew down to LA for 26 hours to go to this big ass convention for the 30th anniversary of Star Wars.

If you know me, you know that Star Wars plays the the same role in my life that the bible does for some other folks... except that I know Star Wars is a bunch of made-up bullshit, and I'm not about to kill anyone over it. But it did give me a mythological backbone for my ideas about change and freedom and cooperation and good and evil and truth. The core story is a about a kid who starts out wanting to free his fellow slaves, then he's indoctrinated by a secretive and powerful cult that denies amorous love, then he goes ape shit nuts trying to figure out how to have it both ways, then he decides the only way to bring peace is to consolidate power, then his kids call bullshit and he kills the bad guy and is redeemed all in a 13 or 14 hour cycle with spaceships and laserswords and hairydog men.  Change a few names and you've got Gilgamesh, or Dorothy, or Yi, Rupe, Ajax, Finn, etc.

Last time I went to a nerd convention I was really bothered by the triumphant "I am so great" attitude of the mouth of Lucasfilm, my P.O. Box neighbor, Steve Sansweet. Maybe I've been suckered by the geek solidarity that comes from seeing hundreds of Stormtroopers march in formation, or some guy in a Boba Fett costume fly over the LA Convention Center courtyard in an actual jet pack, or 4 year old kids saying "I'm not afraid of monsters, cuz I have a lightsaber," or the schmaltzy sentimentality of a giant toy maker producing an action figure in memory of a little girl that died of brain cancer; but it seems that Lucas has enjoyed some kind of reality check. The focus of this convention was the fans, and the creative careers and hobbies fans have built, from costuming, to fan films, to car mods, to those guys with that Robot Chicken show.

There is not a doubt in my mind that Star Wars is little more than a money pump for George, but I think he's definitely realized that if he doesn't let other folks play in the sandbox, he'll end up kind of lonely. That massages my wallet enough to keep consuming, plus the animated and live-action TV shows might be enough of a carrot to get me to write regularly and well.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

cops kill kids

for background go here and search "Jeremiah Chass". For an historical context check here and here and here. Don't forget the annual police riot on Cinco de Mayo, roving check points to impound vehicles from folks too poor to keep up registration and insurance, rumors of pending ICE raids...

Sonoma County has a self-image as a bucolic refuge from the urban centers of Oakland, San Jose, and San Francisco. It's close enough to enjoy the cultural benefits, distant enough to ignore the social problems. This county's perception of itself is built on a lot of pseudo-religious feel-good new-age bullshit. People hope to shop their way to better tomorrow at Whole Foods and the Harmony Festival. People hope to meditate their way to a better tomorrow, by visualizing world peace. People expect "community" to spring up fully formed from nothing more than a good idea.

Unfortunately the only way that things actually happen is if they get done. For this to happen someone has to do them.

Our society gives unquestioned authority to police. Police can kill kids who are freaking out because their parents want to lock them up, and get away with it.

If we are going to change this we have to change it. We have to take the right that cops have to legitimately use violence without question or repercussion away from them.

In 2005 cops killed more residents of Sonoma County than criminals did.

The local media doesn't even print police call logs.

In fact early reports of Jeremiah's murder make it clear that local reporters had no idea how to get public records.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

three times dumb

today I'll catch up with a three fer.


Cynicism coupled with irony was funny for about half a season of South Park, since then it has infiltrated every aspect of American discourse. When the voice of reasoned liberal maintenance of the status-quo talks about citizen participation in the judicial process as a negative, it is an illustration of the goals of the liberal status quo. Liberals just like conservatives are happy to have an entrenched political class, professional decision makers, who preside with benevolence over us plebes. By the bottom of the article jury duty is summarized as a possibly enjoyable public service, but for the first 8 paragraph it echoes the common whining that surely isn't news. Nowhere in the article is jury nullification mentioned, no where in the article is the idea of "a jury of peers" examined, nowhere in the article are intersections of race and class and ability to take a week off work discussed.

It only took four years of war, 600,000 dead Iraqis, 3000 dead GI's, and the collapse of the president's legitimacy for the Press Democrat to be able to parse the "support the troops" jingoism from the actual human desire to keep loved ones safe. Now if it could examine the legitimacy of the spit on soldier myth or it could remind the world who it was that: opposed and the Vietnam War Memorial and who designed it, who it was that cynically and jingoisticaly tried to buy the vets off 15 years after the wars end, finally someone needs to research and write about the cold shoulder Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion gave to vets returning from southeast Asia.

Suicide by cop is a public relations creation. There is no recognized psychological syndrome called "suicide by cop", there is no researched sociological phenomenon called "suicide by cop". The phrase "suicide by cop" has been coined by law enforcement agencies and their apologists who try to divert, disrupt and discount any questioning of police power and authority. Even accepting the lay definition offered here Thurston was unarmed and fleeing from police, the glove don't fit.

Santa Rosa city council still fails to understand that downtown Santa Rosa is blighted by the mall and 101. This $3 million waste is the latest effort to avoid the truth. Maybe if the Santa Rosa City Council was more than a glorified block association for the affluent Montgomery neighborhood, some truth could get spoken.

Once again ceremony has been turned into a commodity.

If Ann Richards is a visionary rebel leader WE ARE FUCKED.

Hey look it's not news but it's scary and there's a movie on the way.

About fucking time now maybe some of the wealth made by slaves can get to their descendants? Oops there's my Marx showing...

If Pat Robertson was calling for my assassination I'd be stocking up on guns too.


I wonder what were folks in California would rank the war on their list of concerns versus... I dunno... spandex clad billboards. I wonder why there hasn't been a rolling interruption of business as usual up and down the state for a week solid to discuss the war?

More happiness at the corner of profit and charity still no acknowledgement of human rights... you know like food, clothes, shelter, education, health care.

After several decades of annexation plans rejected for their bald faced racism suddenly the Press Democrat is reporting on Roseland a developers wet dream: depressed property values from the a combination of white flight, county neglect of the infrastructure, a fictional blight of crime, and large undeveloped tracts.


Surprise surprise stonewalling disguised as concern for officer safety.

Maybe Jesus does love you after all, no wait that was money from PEOPLE that kept the shelter open.

The scale of this one man crime spree probably exceeds the economic impact of every boosted Ipod and car stereo in the county for a year, but it won't get discussed in those terms. The most telling part is that he had over $1 million in stuff that no one knew was missing, and that up to half of it was viewed as obsolete trash that Agilent was going to write off as a loss. Do you understand that? $500,000 worth of perfectly usable machines were seen as "last generation" so they were going to be tossed out and written off from the corporations books. It's an accounting scam, a tax cheat, corruption. No one will talk about it that way either.

This is what happens when a reporter puts a by-line on a police press release. Warrants are public records, the reporter could have found out what the warrants were actually for instead of parroting the menace of "no bail warrant". And what exactly is "suspicion of possessing a concealed gun in a car" is the suspicion that the concealed gun was in the woman's car at the time of arrest? or is it that she had a loaded gun in plain view in a car? or that she had a gun in car at some time in the past?