Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California on March 7, 2004 · Page 7
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Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California · Page 7

Ukiah, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 7, 2004
Page 7
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FORUM SUNDAY, MARCH 7, 2004 - A-t Letters situation in my residential neighborhood. Not everybody is so pleased with the results. The homeless that you (and your collaborators) have evicted, from their hootchs and tents at the river, have now virtually all moved into this neighborhood, joining a couple of dozen that Were already here. Now about 50 homeless congregate next to the railroad tracks between Ford and Brush streets. The garbage is piling up there (right next to a creek that feeds into the Russian River, how ironic); you could fill several more dumpsters right now. And they have no sanitation facilities, so the unbearable stench, and unimaginable squalor, has merely been transferred from rural sites on the Russian River to a residential neighborhood in Ukiah. You call this a success? I sure don't. The noise level has increased with shouting people, barking dogs, muffler- less trucks and cars blaring music from open doors, etc. any time of day and night. The number of desparate people furtively wandering about this neighborhood, and nearby areas, has gone way up. Do either the Ukiah Police or the county Sheriffs know who all these folks are? Not to mention that the last few weeks have had very cold nights. Would it not have been more humane to wait until the weather improved to evict those people from their meager facilities of comfort? Couldn't you have wailed until the new homeless shelter is finished in the near future? Were the consequences to them, or to Ukiah residents, even considered in your zeal to clean up the river? Did you ask anyone in Ukiah if they wanted to absorb an extra 30-40 homeless into their neighborhood? Would you welcome them to come live next to you? At this point, what I want to know, Rebecca, is when will you, or someone, organize Russian River Unlimited, the City of Ukiah, Mendocino County Sheriffs and Ukiah Police to all collaborate and clean up the mess that you have dumped into this neighborhood? I would like you to immediately and effectively address the health, security and peace of mind issues of the residents of this area where the homeless now, congregate en masse (due to your actions), and where they now create all that you so abhorred at the river. Starting on it this week would not be too soon! Thaddeua P. Now Ukiah Councilman: Don't blame the council To the Editor: It may be simple and easy to blame the Ukiah City Council for the failure of Measure G, as Ukiah Police Department Detective, and head of the Police Officer's Association Randy Johnson did two days in a row in the newspaper this week. Such simple-minded explanations are are both inaccurate and harm .the community in which we all live. - The fact of the matter is that out of the 10 tax measures in Mendocino, Lake, Humboldt and Sonoma counties, only two of them passed. In fact, when one looks at the percentage support of tax measures, the City of Ukiah had one of the highest vote percentage of any of the measures, at 63 percent. It is very difficult to get a two-thirds vote on a tax measure. It took the Ukiah Valley Fire Department three tries. The City of Ukiah now faces a series of difficult choices to balance the budget, including possible cuts to law enforcement..! can certainly understand the pressure that the Police Department is feeling, but attacking the City Council is not going to solve the problem. As elected officials, we have the responsibility to make the painful choices to balance the budget. All of a sudden, the $1 million addition to City Hall isn't looking so wise or useful. Some members of the public, including myself, questioned this expenditure of funds at the time. The city budget also contains a number of dubious items such as the $6,000 line item for the city clerical luncheon. We recently approved over $120,000 of spending on the consent calendar; such expenditures warrant a tougher look. Perhaps the City Council itself should forgo salary for the year, which would save about $30,000. There appears to be an orchestrated effort in the city to blame members of the Ukiah City Council for the failure of , Measure G, which is especially ironic since the council put the measure on the ballot in the first place and worked hard as individuals to educate the public about the measure. A better course of action might be to work together to resolve the budget problems we face. After all, we all live in the community together. Paul Andersen Ukiah City Council ON THE STREETS Were you happy with the March 2 election results? THANK YOU LETTER POLICY Editor's note: The Daily Journal welcomes letters of thanks from organizations and individuals. We are glad that so many successful events are held here. However, thank you letters must be kept short. For that reason we have a 20-business name limit per letter. If your letter lists more than 20 businesses it will not be printed. Shorter thank you letters which do not contain lists of participants or donors will be printed more quickly. Those wishing to thank long lists of people and businesses are welcome to contact our advertising department for help with a thank you ad. SUNDAYVOICES Few surprises March 2 I have to admit that the vote on Measure H, which prohibits genetically- modified 'organisms being grown in Mendocino County, surprised me. I had been telling folks who asked for my opinion, that I thought the outcome would be razor-thin. • Boy, was I wrong. Measure H passed with a whopping 56.5 percent approval of voters. Most likely, undecided voters were transformed into decidedly yes voters due to the No on H campaign's $500,000- plus media blitz. Rural folks don't cotton to outsiders attempting to Influence their elections by saturating the countryside with bushel baskets loaded with cash. Measure H also won because it was supported by a true cross-section of county residents. During the run-up to the election, I talked with conservatives, liberals, enviros, fanners, seniors, and business owners who told me they were supporting H. The common thread running through nearly all of their reasons for backing H was a skepticism bordering on hostile distrust of a biotech industry tinkering with what Mother Nature does best. Of course, the other shoe will be dropping soon when either the feds or the state make a move legislatively or in the courts to pre-empt Measure H, as was the case when Mendocino County enacted an ordinance banning aerial spraying. As the old saying goes, one fight has been won but another is about to begin. Stay tuned. type BY JIM SHIELDS Fort Bragg's Kendall Smith cleaned house in the oceanside 4th District Supe race to replace retiring Supe Patti Campbell. Smith, a former county employee union representative, and current field rep for Congressman Mike Thompson, hardly broke a sweat when she hit the finish line with 62 percent of the vote. Meanwhile over on the inland side of the county, Jim Wattenburger, former Battalion Chief at the Laytonville CDF Unit, topped out in a three-man contest for the 2nd District with 46 percent of the vote. Incumbent Richard Shoemaker, who picked up 41 percent of the vote, will square off with Wattenburger in November. Wattenburger was also a long-time Ukiah city councilman, so he's an experienced hand in local government. The deciding factor eight months from now will be which candidate succeeds in wooing a majority of the 12 percent of voters who supported Phil Baldwin, the low finisher in the 2nd District. Mike Delbar, incumbent 1st District Supe from Potter Valley, came within a handful of votes of winning his third term outright. Delbar received 48.5 percent of the votes, with the remainder split between Joe Wildman (28 percent) and Irma Turner (23 percent). Come November, Delbar should be able to cor- ral enough stray votes to hold on to his seat. ***** Marsha Wharff, Mendocino County Registrar of Voters, announced Wednesday that there are 1,442 provisional and absentee ballots remaining to be counted. The un-tallied absentee ballots are those that are turned in on election day at polling locations. According to Wharff, "Many absentee voters wait until the last minute to make their voting choices and then drop off their absentee ballots at a polling place on election day. We receive these ballots very late on election night. All absentee ballots must be pre-processed before they are counted - this includes verifying every absentee voter's signature prior to opening the envelopes in preparation for counting." Wharff explained that provisional ballots are "voted at the polls when a voter's registration is in question, or when our records indicate the voter was already sent an absentee ballot." She said that provisional ballots are sealed in "special envelopes at the polls and must be individually researched and verified before" they are counted. State law allows 28 days after the election to complete the ballot tally and the official audit of the election, which is known as the "canvas." It's not likely that the late tallies will affect any of the primary's outcomes. Jim Shields is the publisher of the Mendocino County Observer in Laytonville. Jordan Celso Laytonville Land developer "Measure H, for sure. I'm really glad our grassroots effort could kick the (heck) out of Monsanto. And the same with Humboldt and their efforts. It's all about educating people." Bonny Williamson Ukiah ; Property manager . "Yes. I think it was goocl for the bond issue to pass for the state of California and for the county. The cut$ to education and county budgets won't have to be so drastic." Frank Soteto Ukiah Doctor's office staff', i, "It was alright, all except that H. The privacy deal, where they can come in and take whatever, I was just afraid of that. It migrit work out." John Walker Ukiah Realtor ; "I was happy from the standpoint that people go.t out and voted and that's the most important thing o'f all. We're lucky to have good candidates who want to serve the community." '• Debbie Roberts ; Ukiah School secretary ; "No. Measure G was the biggest loss. I work a,t Pomolita so I feel we really lost out. I'm concerned how that will effect our community and our schools." ^ Ellle Slegel Ukiah Retired "Yes. I'm glad Measure H passed. All that false information that went on about H in regards to higher taxes andinvasion of privacy, that's total nonsense. 1 wish there weren't run offs because it just costs mor'e money." :, Photos and intei-views by Amy Wellnitz. Lonely at the top The recent release by the Library of Congress of the papers of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun has been called a treasure trove of insider history from an institution that normally guards its inner workings with great jealousy. Blackmun served on the Supreme Court for more than 30 years, and was a meticulous record-keeper - he apparently never threw away anything, including draft opinions and notes he made during the justices most private conferences about pending cases, eventually accumulating more than a half million documents. The preliminary review of Blackmun's records show that, despite what one might hope, the Supreme Court is like any other institution run by people, filled with as much human failing as greatness. For example, Blackmun's reports that the justices created a state-by-state pool on the 1992 election - and that Justice Sandra Day O.'Connor won the pool, collecting $18. Whatever else you can say about them, the justices aren't big bettors. Still, the very best "inside-the-Supreme: Cowt" story may still be one that pre-dated ;BJacfcmun's tenure - from about forty-five years ago. In 1960, there was a man on the Supreme Court whom most people have never heard of, His name was Charles Whittaker, judicial follies BY FRANKZOTTER and although he had a distinguished career as an attorney and judge, the Supreme Court was of a different order from anything he had done before. By all accounts, Whittaker simply did not have the nerve and decisiveness to serve on a body making such important decisions. On October 12, 1960, the court heard oral argument on a routine life insurance case, Meyer et al v. United States. As they do in every case once the lawyers have had their say, the justices then retire to a conference room where, once a week, they vote on the cases that have recently been argued. No one except the justices themselves ever attends this meeting. They sit at a long table and go around the room by seniority, each expressing his (and today, her) opinion about the case. They keep a tally on who votes which way, and then the Chief Justice or the senior justice in the majority assigns the case to one of the justices who voted in the majority. Justices on the losing side have the option of writing a dissenting opinion. The majority opinion is then drafted and circulated to the chambers of the other justices. The dissenting opinions are also be circulated, and memos fly back and forth as each justice expresses approval of the draft or requests that the majority opinion needs to be changed somehow to keep that justice's vote. If it's a dissent, of course, the justices try to convince their fellows that it should become a majority opinion. And occasionally if the initial vote was close, the legal argument that starts out as a dissent will convince someone to switch sides and become the opinion of the court. Something quite different happened in the Meyer case, however. In Meyer, Justice Whittaker was assigned to write the majority opinion. Justice William O. Douglas decided to write a dissent, which he quickly drafted. By tradition, however, dissents await the majority opinion, partly out of courtesy and also because the dissent can then try to poke holes in specific arguments of the majority. So the story goes, Douglas dropped by well, I was going to say "Whittaker's chambers," but that would sound too much like a bad in-joke - to see Justice Whittaker on a completely different matter. While he was there, the question of the uncirculated opinion in Meyer came up. '•' As he paced the floor, Justice Whittaker confessed that he had not even begun. He jusl could not seem to begin to express his thought on the case. Douglas, having written a dissent on th,e case, was familiar with the arguments on botp sides. If it would help you, Douglas suggested, I could draft up something to help get.ypp started. Whittaker readily assented, ancj within a few days, a draft majority opinion was circulated to the other chambers. And so was Douglas' original - dissenting - opiniorti, which did not pick up enough votes to change the outcome. ,'! So the story goes, Douglas' ghostwritten majority opinion made its way into the layy books without any changes from Justice Whittaker, making it the only case in Supreme Court history when the same person wrote both the majority and the dissenting opinion. '•'• Justice Whittaker, of course, is given sole credit on the record for the majority opinion. He stayed on the Supreme Court for only two more years, the minimum to qualify for a pension, and then quietly retired. > Frank Zotter 1$ a Ukiah attorney.

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